By Shaaban Fundi,
Speaking to an Ethiopian American friend of mine over the week end I came to know that there are more doctors of Ethiopian descent in Chicago alone than in the entire nation of Ethiopia. I did not believe my ears when I heard this, so I went and looked some sources to confirm if that was really true. I am afraid to say that it is indeed true according to estimates made by the International Organization for Migration, a Swiss group that examines migration trends and issues.
“It is not that Africa does not have the talent; it’s just that a lot of it isn’t resident in the continent,” says Richard Cambridge-who is the director of World Bank’s African Diaspora Program. Dr. Cambridge Program aims to harness the skills and resources of the millions of people of African descent living around the world.
According to estimates by the World Bank’s African Diaspora Program, diasporas from sub-Saharan Africa sends as much as $40 billion a year back to the continent in the form of remittance or cash transfers to relatives. This highlights the fact that beyond expat talent, there are also finances that could be tapped.
African nations need to create and develop mechanisms/policies to channel at least a portion of these billions into developmental projects. In addition, a conducive environment need to be created to allow for some of these African expats to give time (volunteer their know-how) or money back to their homeland.
The bottom line is that the diaspora is an important integral of any strategy to deal with the development of the African continent. We often time hear that Africa don’t have the people, don’t have the institution needed. But, the truth is that we have well educated people with resources that can be used as a catalyst for development.
Let us eliminate that notion that Africa cannot develop because of lack of capacity. We have both (well- educated and skilled personnel scattered all around the globe as well as the resources to go with it) if you follow my line of thinking.
Here is a link to the African Diaspora Program, courtesy of Kate Bomz.