More than Just Sending Money Home: Engaging the Diaspora as a Priority for Africa's Development

Editor's Note: This chapter is part of the 2013 Foresight Africa full report, which details the top priorities for Africa in the coming year. Read the full report here.

Highlights

  • There are approxi­mately 30.6 million Africans in the diaspora.  A major­ity of them are migrants within Africa (14.5 million), whereas 8.2 million and 2 million Africans, respectively, call Europe and the Americas home.
  • The African diaspora sends huge amounts of money to their mother countries, estimated at $40 billion in 2010.
  • More local African commercial banks should engage their diasporas in innovative ways to bring down transfer costs and mobilize deposits for development purposes.

Af­rica’s large diaspora has mainly been seen as an asset to African countries only in terms of remittances. However, the African diaspora population is untapped human capital, underutilized as a source of invest­ment, support and human capital, and a resource for advocacy and political pressure.

Anne Kamau and Mwangi S. Kimenyi offer ways for African policymakers to better engage diaspora members in the year ahead.  African governments should take the time and effort to know what their diaspora looks like so that they can target it more effectively.  African banks should look to diaspora members as potential clients.  Also, by building effective and targeted lobbying and advocacy groups, African governments can empower their diaspora in their host countries to influence foreign policies that impact Africa.