Africa’s diaspora seeks role in post-pandemic recovery

Meals on Wheels South Africa

Meals on Wheels Volunteers distribute food parcels in Brapkan, Ekurhuleni, on July 6, 2020, amid a soaring Covid-19 infection rate in Gauteng province, South Africa

Photo credit: Michele Spatari | AFP

The African diaspora is seeking a role in helping the continent recover from Covid-19's effects, with focus on investments in the most battered areas of the economy.

Next month, a group of diaspora welfare campaigners are expected to hold a symposium on how Africans living outside of the continent can contribute to that recovery.

The symposium, scheduled for December 8 to 10, is supposed to be part of an annual ritual for the Kenya Diaspora Alliance, a Kenyan lobby for several diaspora associations, to discuss Kenyan economy and ease of remittances.

This time, however, the circumstances of Covid-19 have pushed the alliance to reach out to partners across the continent, to discuss saving Africa’s entire economies, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

Organisers say next month’s African Diaspora Symposium-ADS2020 will discuss the theme: “Leveraging Diaspora Resources for Africa’s Economic Recovery Post-Covid” and will be incorporated in the annual Kenya Diaspora Homecoming Convention KDHC2020 due at  the Ole Sereni Hotel. The Alliance will be holding the 7th such convention in a row.

Hybrid event

Yet Covid-19’s persistence in Kenya and the continent means some of the activities could be restricted to virtual meetings.

“Subject to the Ministry of Health’s Covid-19 protocols, the event shall be a hybrid,” said Shem Ochuodho, the Global Chairperson of the KDA.

“About 200 high-profile guest speakers and participants comprising industry experts, policy makers and government officials drawn from across the continent will be physically attending at Ole Sereni, while the rest will be participating virtually.”

KDA is organising the event with the nascent Africa Diaspora Alliance, which has yet to formally take off after its formation was announced recently.

The lobbies say they have established links with organisations on the Caribbean, African-American,  as well as diaspora federations in other countries to host an African Diaspora Symposium.

The meeting comes at a time the diaspora seems to be defying economic hardships experienced through the year to keep sending money home. Figures from the Central Bank of Kenya recorded that total inflows in the 12 months to September stood at $2,967 million (Sh322.8 billion) compared to $2,786 (Sh303.1 billion) in the 12 months to September 2019.

Diaspora remittances

Even with the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the African diaspora appears to have shaken the challenge.

Consistent Diaspora remittances to the continent amounted to $80 billion, of which $48 billion was attributed to sub-Saharan Africa remittances for last year, according to the World Bank.

The symposium will provide an opportunity for dialogue and reflection on and planning for a post-pandemic Africa.

A key area of discussion, organisers say, will be the “deepening of the involvement of the 6th Region -- African diaspora -- via co-investment” with African businesses and governments in sectors as diverse as healthcare and manufacturing, infrastructure and agro-processing, tourism and import-export, digital economy and arts, among others.

The continent is often generally categorised in five regions: north, south, east, west and central. 

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