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Manual on Africa Diasporas' Business unusual for accelerated and strengthened development in Africa

Updated on October 30, 2013

Political Mobilization to eradicate Poverty in Africa

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Political mobilization against poverty
Political mobilization against poverty
Political mobilization against poverty | Source

50+ talking points targeting Africa Diasporas; a tool for guiding conversation around new business models led by Africa Diasporas

MISSION STATEMENT:

To depict the activities of persons who moved out of Africa and the African islands in Atlantic, Indian and Red Sea to all those other lands for various reasons, and identify themselves as living in the diaspora.


REASON FOR THIS REVIEW TOOL:

To contextualize a diaspora-constituency positioned to promote world peace, eradicate poverty and boost trade. This tool has been a conscientiously researched mapping and analysis of activities by Africa Diasporas. The tool has used literature review and attendance at Diaspora social events.


TYPOLOGY AND CHARACTERISTICS OF AFRICAN DIASPORA:

Africans of Indian-descent, Africans of European-descent, Africans of Arabian Peninsula-descent, Africans of Jewish-descent, Africans of Lebanese-descent, Africans of Palestinian-descent, Africans of Syrian-descent, Africans of Turkish-descent, Africans of Chinese-descent, Africans of Asian-descent, South Africans, Eastern Africans, North Africans, West Africans, Central Africans and African Islanders (e.g., Mauritania, Lamu, Pemba, Sao Tome & Principe, Cape Verde, Madagascar and Zanzibar), in the Global North and Global south.


THE REASONS FOR MOVING OUT OF AFRICA:

1. Wars

2. Religious persecution

3. Political persecution

4. Economic opportunities

5. Education

6. Asylum seeking/Refugees

7. Natural calamities, hunger, diseases


LIMITATIONS OF THIS TOOL:

1.There is a category that has been left out deliberately as a means to clarity and ensuring a fine line cascading into the mission statement.

2. The tool has looked into African Diasporas who have established themselves informally or formally and have shelter, access health services, enjoy peace, pursue happiness, some are formally documented and others are not. Documentation and employment authorization have been an assumption in generating this narrative. Documentation changes the game plan and does impact greatly on the readiness and willingness for the Diasporas to engage in work and productive living.

3. The tool has mostly looked into the post-colonial Africa. It is true many of the Islands of Africa were populated by people under the auspices of traders, European and Asian powers even before colonization of Africa by 1884.

4. This tool does not look into slavery and resource extraction that fed the industrialization era of Europe. These subjects are dealt with elsewhere in various publications.

5. Many of the African Diasporas have been expelled, evicted, faced injustices ( as well as bodily or mental torture and deprivation or denial of due diligence, the fact that poverty still abounds on the African continent is an injustice in itself), displaced, persecuted and have 'pain-stories.' These ones engage in activities to make them forget the pains. Many still look at their old countries with fondness. This tool did not capture those 'pain-stories' and 'triumph-stories.' This tool just does a cursory mention of refugees and asylum seekers are some of the bricks that make up the Diasporas. It was hoped this subject is dealt with in many other areas e.g.,http://congoleseamericans.wordpress.com/2013/10/06/us-refugee-numbers-dont-reflect/comment-page-1/#comment-199 , http://www.entrepreneurnewsonline.com/2007/10/cameroon-diaspo.html and http://www.bladi.net/forum/threads/moroccan-diaspora.121122/). It would have been right to include these stories in this tool but, the mission statement would then be abandoned. Also it is hard for well assimilated new citizens to immediately reveal their levels of engagements with Africa for fear of mixed allegiances.


DEFINITION OF DIASPORA:

Diaspora: A population group with the following common factors: origin, beliefs, aspirations, victimization, ethnicity, geography or land. The population group is situated in another smaller or larger geographical location (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diaspora).


DIASPORA IN THE INDIAN, PACIFIC AND ATLANTIC OCEAN REALM:

African diaspora in the Indian Ocean occurred over a very long time. People from Africa were skilled in seamanship, trade and engaged in exploration alongside ancient Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans between 2,000 BCE-33 AD (http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread845105/pg3 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus,http://exhibitions.nypl.org/africansindianocean/essay-east-africa.php). People from Africa adjacent to the Indian ocean, Red sea and Atlantic ocean engaged in activities through which they exploited the waters, engaged in commerce and knew the various weather patterns around them. This kind of relation continues even today. The slave trade across the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Indian subcontinent accelerated from the 18th through the 19th centuries because of a combination of factors: more efficiently organized states in East Africa that had an active interest in promoting it; the transportation of people from Mozambique to Brazil by the Portuguese; the establishment by Omani Arabs of plantations at Zanzibar and Pemba; and the introduction of African captives into the island of Madagascar by the French. People from Madagascar and those sent there from continental Africa were transported to southern Iran during the 19th century. A sizable black population formed at Hormuz, comprising Malagasy and mainland Africans who fused cultures and traditions into a unique culture of their own ( http://exhibitions.nypl.org/africansindianocean/essay-east-africa.php). The character of persons shipped off or extracted from Africa via the Atlantic realm includes: persons who provided time and effort to work in large plantations in South and North America and the islands in the Atlantic realm. They also included the bulk of workers on ocean going ships further into the Pacific realm. There they engaged on different activities and contributed to teh cultures there.


DIASPORA-LED DEVELOPMENT:

Diaspora led development in Africa is a new frontier to tap into. The diaspora outside Africa and that internally located is potential for raising capital, improve on the critical skills in various industries in Africa(http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTDECPROSPECTS/Resources/4768821157133580628/DfD_ch01.pdf). “Development policy thinking cannot realize its value unless it is accessed by the planners and implementors of development. Diasporas can be positioned as informers of policymakers in Africa. They can be tapped to address poverty in Africa as a constituency. Estimates suggest that sub-Saharan Africa, where almost half of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day, is the only region where the number of people in extreme poverty has risen steadily – from 290 million in 1990 to 414 million in 2010. The second frontier Africa Diasporas can be tasked to handle is boosting trade between African countries. It can be hugely important for poor countries on the continent. Policymakers need to move beyond traditional thinking of regional integration as a linear procession. Tariffs must first be reduced, then customs procedures simplified. African governments must do more to ensure that at every step of the way African traders are benefiting from increased African trade. Regional trade is going to contribute to development, Africa must start developing regional traders. Otherwise, rapid trade could simply mean the shipment of commodities to China and Asia or, even worse, the shipment of merchandise from south-east Asia through African export processing zones to concessional markets in the west"(Mukhisa Kituyi Unctad Secretary General, 2013).


CREDIT AND DEBIT SIDES OF THE DIASPORA BALANCE SHEET:

1. As they continue living in new or adopting countries, Diasporas gain sophistication. Diasporas are agents of development, who not only remit money to their countries of origin, but also transfer ideas of political, social, and cultural change. The Diaspora is not only remitting, they are also returning to launch enterprises and run businesses that stimulate local economies and create employment. More Diasporas are educated abroad and return to launch successful businesses in their country of origin. Diasporas have become savvy in many aspects of life: are more politically engaged; are astute and can position themselves to better shape public policy that will create an environment that facilitates positive change.

Their lifestyles change, they engage in efforts to assimilate, they engage in work to generate incomes and skills which have changed the population demographics and dynamics that were attributed to Africans. They now live longer and better. An increased number is literate and has joined the health care, engineering, transportation, human services and teaching services. They make remittances and contribute to conversations that in turn contribute to development initiatives in parent countries.

2. Create formal structures to engage Diasporas in negotiating for greater presence of capital investors in their home countries e.g. the activities of Tunisian, Nigerian, Kenyan, Liberian, Ghanaian and Ugandan Diasporas. These structures could rotate around how they organize and through their planned activities it is possible to negotiate attendance in such spaces.

3. Identify the diverse roles in which Diasporas can be effectively engaged. Many have skills in heavy industries and sea-masterly. Shipping, hospital equipments, IT equipment and heavy machinery expertise among the Diasporas has created a new age category who can work both in the Global north and south.

4. Explore what forms of organization is established by the Diasporas and tap into it. Social and cultural related organizations have raised the awareness of Diasporas towards upholding such values like: respect, dignity, privacy, conduct and responsibility. These have become their conscience part, normalized and form basis of daily interaction. This can be tapped into by Africa to develop a critical number of persons who engage in orderly conduct e.g. such as keeping cities clean. This is one of the pillars of democratization. It may reduce the feelings of inferiority, attitude of patronisation, being competitive and combative politically in Africa whenever the term 'democratization' is mentioned.

5. Strengthen linkages with Diasporas, coordinate and manage immigration issues. Documentation is key to assimilation and a motivation by the Diasporas to make to and fro journeys.

6. Provide key contact at executive and legislative levels by Diasporas. African Union and the states should have formal recognition structures of the Diasporas.

7. Promote the Economic and cultural ties of the Diasporas. Africa has an overall Diaspora population reaching around 35-50 million. India has 20 million Indians in the diaspora. That number is not something to be ignored.

8. Institutionalized Diaspora engagement at ministerial levels.

9. Provide tax-free benefits for Diaspora engaging in community development initiatives.

10. Tap into the Diaspora connections overseas to improve on globalization perspectives. These include minding about the environment, democratization, development, anti-poverty drives and social cultural rights.

11. Explore the scale of engagement by Diasporas. Note capacity building gaps. Explore schemes that look good on paper and see why they are not implemented.

12. Commit to fund Diaspora schemes that may break even and make returns. Investing in the Diasporas enables Africa to lessen of various expenses and diversion of skilled foreign staff in areas where the Diasporas themselves can do an effective job.

13. Explore operational knowledge and skills to pursue and reach goals. This helps n mapping professionalism among the Diasporas.

14. Monitoring, evaluation and governance should be progressively done. This is a best practice in execution of activities and professionalism.

15.Engage in a feed-back loop in which information on assimilation, challenges, triumphs by Diasporas is shared. One can know implementation plans, impact, use the findings to inform organization development, trends and further engagement.

16. The Diaspora have wants, needs and potential. These range from documentation, credit extension, education and pursuance of happiness.

17. Africa has to make a self-assessment on how it is dealing with its Diasporas.

18. Mapping of population groups in turn makes it possible to generate context, characters and demographics. This informs consumerism and policy formulation.

19. Map capacity and skills. This generates a picture into strengths and opportunities.

20. Map willingness to engage. This gives one a picture into animosity, politics and allegiances.

21. Providing formal linkage with Diasporas helps to engage in a close up a study of institutions established by Diasporas and weigh relevancy to Africa's development.

22. Delineate roles and responsibilities within organizations and identify line ministries for support.

23. Establish motivation and buy-in by all actors.

24. Establish clear communication channels and commitment bench-marks to allay fear of corruption and bad governance practices.

25. Ensure standard operating procedures on performance, leadership, governance and transparency are shared by all.

26. Establish grievances and oversight platforms to address conflicts. This helps to learn from challenges and share triumphs.

29. With remittances more than double overseas development assistance, the Diaspora increasingly play a developmental role.

31. Provide categories and population groups of Diaspora identifying as and engaged in development drives a voice and platform. This disaggregated approach helps track the kind of people engaged and what kind of initiatives those are.

32. Provide mainstreaming opportunities of successful development models in development assistance.

33. Explore how the MDG's (global development) can be achieved with the support of the Diasporas.

34. Engage in brand and skills development. There are various ways to do this. One way is to engage publishing houses which can publish books of different titles targeting readership and scholarly ventures about Africa. The other is engaging in media coaching initiatives to improve Diasporas visibility. This can be in form of enrolling in short courses like those organized by 'Writing Job.com' to develop social media content and online visibility on role of Diasporas in self development and that of Africa. This has the following features: clear writing, cogent argument backed up by solid evidence and examples. Putting the pieces together, and injecting the right personal note to make for a truly memorable piece. This takes work, self-confidence and practice though. Or such initiatives like Bill and Melinda Gates/ Aspen Institute's New Voices Fellowship where training is done in use of media. Contacts are then brought at the same venue and a 'speed dating' takes place. Crafting audiences is an ongoing, effective and profitable initiative. It should be a planned investment. The film and entertainment industry is another big boost to Diaspora visibility (http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2013/aug/23/aspen-new-voices-africa-fellowship).


36. There is a need to develop among the Diasporas, teams of think tanks which can eventually become institutionalized and professionalized as expertise on development basing on their exposure in the two worlds both home and adoptive countries.

37. Establish a torch bearer mentality and paradigm shift among the Diasporas. The steps include: identifying needs, defining skills, exploring and owning up to limitations, identify solutions, identify resources, design ways to contribute to solutions, network development, plan for feedback.

38. The Diasporas can position themselves to tackle extreme poverty, environment conservation and other overarching development related issues. They can link up with UN trade and development Unctad). They can take up investment in social services such as education, sanitation, health and service industry. They can complement dwindling aid from developed countries to highly indebted countries. They can insulate Africa from global financial and economic crises. The Diasporas are economic growth engine and need to be motivated by capital investment, proper documentation and trust.

39.Road, railways, ports and social infrastructure need investment into. Countries such as China, Brazil and Russia have the technological wherewithal and this can be tapped into by Africa.

40. The Diasporas can be organized to contribute to the UN's Central emergency fund.

41. The Diasporas can organize to promote liberalized trade and deregulated financing. The electronic money transfer, revitalizing city suburbs and establishment of businesses e.g. Somalis, Nigerians, Ghanaian, Liberians and Ethiopians.

42. The organizations formed by Diasporas should have opportunities for sharing information within their own circles. This helps stakeholders to follow progress and keep abreast of trends.

44. Diaspora organizations can position themselves to receive funds if: they fulfill requirements put up by those who make contributions and provide stringent value for money fund use plans. This is key and indicates good fiscal practices. Members are motivated to beef up membership once it is clear to them that Diaspora organizations are not spaces of corruption and fund misuse.

45. Remittances by Diasporasrange from a high ceiling of USD 5 billion by the highest remitting country (Egypt followed by Nigeria) in Africa to a low floor of USD 100 million per year. At a minimum 3-5 billion USD are remitted per year by the Diasporas if a minimum average of over 50 countries are put in the picture and estimates of at least 100 million are maintained (author's computation).


LESSONS LEARNT:

A new wave of action on the African continent involves: Education of the girl child, Governance, Market leadership, Institutionalization, Infrastructure development, Women's front row role, democratization and enduring social-cultural trends. This will be led in the most part by the Diasporas. There are continuous agitation for change for the better, many Diasporas are engaged in investments and at platforms on which they are genuinely calling for a better picture of Africa. Their voices can no longer be ignored. Issues of women, the girl child, disabled persons, poverty, security, transparency, cultural social rights, sexuality, parent and child relations, environment and use of African resources are watched by them.

RECOMMENDATIONS:


1. To Global North Sovereigns; establish diaspora exchange and leadership support desks under foreign or development departments. Tap into the organizational formal and informal structures by African Diasporas. Regularize and formalize meetings. Shape trends with the help of the Diasporas. The existing initiatives under Amref-UK and USAID's African Diaspora Marketplace are models to emulate.

2. To Governments, CSO's, and NGO's; empower persons to navigate and assimilate in the new cultural settings. These settings can be in form of recreation, social and cultural exchanges.

3.To Emerging rich nations ( Brazil, Russia, India and China); systematically negotiate for two issues: Market-oriented relations with Africa and genuine development oriented commerce that builds a critical number of professionals from Africa. This context in turn will allow for mutual development and knowledge exchange. This model can be used to involve the youths in talent-based industries. This in turn will enable Africa engage this large population group right away as opposed to the seemingly quiet regard this population group is receiving.

4. To African Union;

-Provide opportunity for peace building and co-existence among nations, cross-border ethnicities and cultures.

-establish a platform to educate Africans about its diversities ( Arabs, Jews, Europeans, Indians, Chinese and others).

-establish policy framework formally recognizes the Africa Diasporas in their entirety. Establish an African day providing visibility around the Diaspora-constituency. In turn action plans can be formulated and impact assessment narrative generated. The AU should continue promoting the image of a unified Africa with sovereign states working together on economic, built environment and industrialization. In ensuring this, Africa will open up large tracts of its land, create attendant industries ranging from hospitality, agriculture, housing, governance, security, cross border relations, and maintenance. This will open up employment opportunities for many. This it is hoped will reduce tensions in its many appearances.

5. To host countries; establish cultural exchange and exhibition opportunities. The number of people who are bilingual or even trilingual among the Diasporas continues to increase and manifest itself in form of the Diasporas. This can be tapped into as a social media. The number of people who take up services and influence service provision in given boroughs, towns or neighborhoods is increased. So is belief, self esteem and trust in systems by the newly arrived.





Mix of Development Recipe for Africa-A checklist

CHARACTER
YES
NO
Security
 
 
Education
 
 
Credit extension
 
 
Small and Medium Enterprises
 
 
Knowledge-based development
 
 
Industrialization
 
 
Built area
 
 
Environment Conservation
 
 
Middle-class
 
 
Income generating activities at household level
 
 
Health
 
 
Tourism
 
 
Large Professional and Skilled population
 
 
Cooperation and Partnerships
 
 
This is a yes and no checklist to provide pace and progress for those monitoring enterprises development and professionalism in Africa

Diasporas contribute to both host and countries of origin


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