Unlocking the untapped potential of Diaspora for national development

September 27, 2018 Africa , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

Reuters photo



Fanuel Lakew



Diaspora’s contributions to their home country are obviously quite huge. Their contribution can bring a tremendous change to their homeland. Their contributions can be translated through various ways. Remittance is one, Diasporas back the economy of their country and help relatives and family by sending remittance. In this regard, countries try to harness the enormous potential of the Diaspora. Diaspora’s potential is as important as tourism or any other sector in the overall economy, which is why various countries design viable Diaspora policy to get the benefit. However, the potential cannot be seen from the financial point of view but instead from an intellectual one.


According to the World Bank report of 2018, India emerged as top remittance recipients with 69 billion USD at a global level. China followed India with 64 billion USD. The Philippines (33 billion USD), Mexico (31 billion USD), Nigeria (22 billion USD) and Egypt (20 billion USD) also received remittances.


In its recently released statement entitled ‘Migration and Development Brief’, the World Bank said that Nigerian Diaspora sends home 22 billion USD in 2017. which is the highest in the Sub-Saharan region and the fifth highest in the world. “The amount sent home by Nigerians in Diaspora represents the highest in the Sub-Saharan Africa region followed by Senegal and Ghana with 2.2 billion USD each for the year.”


The surprising thing here is that Ethiopia has a number of Diaspora in the USA than Egypt, Ghana and Senegal. However, the remittance it received was less than those countries. The Ethiopian community, sizable and well-educated, is the second largest African community in the United States next to Nigeria, though Nigerians and other African communities contribute a lot to their home by sending remittances. The Ethiopian community on its part has contributed less.


In spite of this, the Ethiopian Diasporas across the world sent close to three billion remittances, according to the Ministry of Trade. In other words, the remittances the country received were equivalent with the total export earnings. It shows that there are huge untapped potentials of the Diaspora. The country earned three billion USD remittance without having a viable Diaspora policy, strong support and due attention from the government. The recent initiative taken by the Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed was a good move to engage Diaspora in the overall development of their country. In this regard, the Diaspora Trust Fund Initiative is the best way to make Diaspora engage with their home.


Diaspora’s contribution should not only be seen from a financial point of view. Diasporas, especially skilled ones, can play a great role in investing and sharing knowledge with the people in various sectors. In this regard, India has a viable Diaspora policy that attracts its expatriates to invest in their homeland. The Indian Diaspora living abroad had established an ICT village in Bangalore in the State of Karnataka. This ICT village is believed to be the future silicon valley. Indian Diasporas, who are professionals in ICT at Silicon Valley, established this village as the government offered them attractive incentives.


Ethiopia should therefore draw lessons from the Chinese, Japanese and Indian experiences on how to harness the untapped potentials of Diasporas. Ethiopian missions abroad in this regard can and should be playing and facilitating a great role working closely with the Diasporas. Somebody’s political stance should not be the criteria to invest and contribute to the country. It is high time to take a bold move under the new administration of Dr Abiy Ahmed. The premiere actually brought great hope to the Diaspora – this opportunity should be exploited in the proper manner.





Fanuel Lakew

Fanuel Lakew is a reporter at the Ethiopian Herald Newspaper of the Ethiopian Press Agency. He did his B.A. degree in Political Science and International Relations from Addis Ababa University in 2012. He also served as the Secretary-General of the Ethiopian Political Science and International Relations. He as well studied M.A. in Politics and International Relations at the Central University of Gujarat, India. He can be reached at [email protected]

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