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How diverse is the African Diaspora?

Africa's new relationship to the World

· Current Affairs

Africa has 3,000 distinct ethnic groups, more than 2,000 languages and is home to the most genetically diverse people on Earth. So diverse that two Africans are more genetically different from each other than a Chinese and a European are from each other. Africa is the world's second-largest and second most populous continent.

The ethnic groups of Africa number in the thousands, with each population generally having its own language (or dialect of a language) and culture. The ethnolinguistic groups include various Afroasiatic, Khoisan, Niger-Congo and Nilo-Saharan populations.

African Diaspora

Diaspora has been defined as “people of African origin living outside of the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality, and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union. Diasporic identities are complex and multifaceted and at the same time, for many African countries, nation building is a work in progress. A key difference between the old and new African diaspora is the unit of Africa with which members of the disapora relate.

The presence of the African Diaspora in a given place creates opportunities for cultural exchanges between members of the different nations. National policies aimed at strengthening Diasporas are being implemented more and more, notably through the growing actions of embassies abroad. In fact, this is often the place where different nationals from a community gather, for instance during special events organized by the embassies themselves, with a view to enhancing the feeling of belonging to a national community. The integration of Diasporas within the framework of foreign policies, encompassed in the of the cultural activities of embassies, indicates the growing interest of public authorities for this group of citizens living abroad. It also contributes to promoting African cultures and nations, which are not always understood in the western world.

Calling for Change

There are currently African initiatives that help to establish an integrated approach across industries, for example, cross-border payment systems, including the transfer of remittances in the Economic Community of West African states and in the Economic Monetary Community of Central Africa. In some countries, encouraging growth of private sector networks may be more effective than direct government involvement in establishing links to the diasporas.

Some African governments are providing incentives to attract investment from the diasporas. For example, as mentioned, Ethiopia grants a yellow card to diaspora members, profiting from the same benefits and rights as domestic investors. Additional investment incentives for both foreign investors and the diaspora include income tax exemptions for two to seven years, 100 percent duty exemption on the import of machinery and equipment for investment projects and 100 percent customs exemption on spare parts whose values does not exceed 15 percent of the total value of capital goods imported.

First Steps

Land and Real Estate are considered more solid options for the Diaspora looking to invest in the motherland. Total diaspora contributions to Africa in 2015 stood at $71.8 billion compared to the roughly $43 billion in Oversea Development Assistance (ODA), according to the World Bank figures for that year. The latest World Bank figures about Diaspora African remittance show that in 2014, despite paying far more remittance fees than most other areas in the world, Africans still sent back home to Africa a whooping $80 billion. Depending on the region, those figures can account for 1 to 5% of Gross Domestic Products (GDP).

The African Diaspora is growing in importance in terms of policy initiatives globally, as more and more realize its influence and the contributions it can make to enhance African human and economic development. It is impossible to engage effectively or meaningfully with the African diaspora without first understanding what their strengths are and how to communicate with them. The diaspora itself can serve as a resource to help African governments devise and implement such strategies. Lack of resources, thus, can no longer be an adequate explanation for not taking a systematic and strategic approach to harnessing the African diaspora’s contributions to Africas development.

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Sources: Indepedent research EPG Media, Worldbank, Wikapedia,

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