GLOBAL AFRICAN DIASPORA SUMMIT
African Union Strives to Mainstream the Diaspora within the Continent’s
The African Union Commission in collaboration with the Republic of South Africa will be holding the first Global African Diaspora Summit on Africa Day, 25 May 2012 within the Sandton Convention Centre located in Sandton CBD, Johannesburg, South Africa.
The African Union recognizes the fact that the African Diaspora, found in North and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia and various parts of the world are an integral part of the continent.
Following the Meeting of Experts on the Definition of the African Diaspora held on 11 –12 April 2005 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; the African Union defines the African Diaspora as follows:
“The African Diaspora consists of peoples of African origin living outside 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.”
The African Union declared that it shall “invite and encourage the full participation of the African Diaspora as an important part of our continent, in the building of the African Union”; as per the Protocol on Amendments to the Constitutive Act of the African Union adopted by the 1st Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 3 February 2003. Moreover, the AU considers the Diaspora as the sixth region of the Continent.
The Directorate of African Citizens and Diaspora Organization (CIDO) of the AU Commission, working in collaboration with other AUC Departments and external organizations such as the World Bank (WB) and African Development Bank (AfDB) among others is actively engaging with the Diaspora through several initiatives. The major initiatives that are currently undertaken by the AU in its engagement with the Diaspora are:
- The production of a skills database of African professionals in the Diaspora
- The establishment of the African Diaspora Volunteer Corps,
- The foundation of an African Diaspora Investment Fund, and
- The development of a programme on the development marketplace for the Diaspora as a framework for facilitating innovation and entrepreneurship among African people and the Diaspora.
Through such programmes the African Union aims to create incentives for investment and foster a more conducive business environment within the continent which will stimulate interest among its Diaspora. The Diaspora actively contributes towards the development of the continent through various ways including remittance flows and technological transfers. Over 25 million African citizens receive an estimated amount of 40 Billion USD annually in the form of remittances from their relatives abroad. If channelled into the proper sectors in terms of investments, these flows will be of great benefit to Africa’s sustainable development. Initiatives such as African Remittance Institute will enable recipients to use a banking system that will not only channel the money as investments but will also reduce the cost of sending the money. This in turn will effectively increase the efficiency and volume of flows coming into the continent from the Diaspora around the world.
“Once seen as unpromising and overly risky, Africa is now one of the world’s fastest-growing emerging markets and an increasingly sought-after investment destination.” Mr. Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of AUC in his foreword in ‘Invest in Africa: Towards 50 Years of Progress and Development, 2012’
The Global African Diaspora Summit will focus on the formulation of the African Diaspora roadmap. By building synergies between Africa and the Diaspora, the Summit aims to lead to the global advancement and improvement of lives. The building and reinforcing of the mechanisms for the advancement of the Diaspora program will be mutually beneficial to the African population residing within and out of the continent.
The Summit will provide a platform for the Diaspora to address cross-sectoral issues and actively engage in areas of renewable energy, technological transformation, food security, tourism, combating HIV/AIDS, education, gender equality, etc. ... Moreover, the Summit will continue building upon the process of strong and continued collaboration between Africa and its Diaspora, in the context of South-South cooperation and Pan-African solidarity. One of the key outcomes of this Summit will be the identification and implementation of “bankable projects” through appropriate and effective implementation plans or framework of action. These projects will focus on the thematic areas of political, economic and social co-operation and are aimed at fostering the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship between Africa and its Diaspora.
Rebuilding the global African family separated by colonialism and acknowledging the need to celebrate and preserve the shared heritage between Africa and the African Diaspora is a key element of the African Union Diaspora agenda. Taking into account the past, the upcoming Summit presents an important opportunity for Africa and its Diaspora to cement their current relations and build on them for a future that is brighter for both as one big African family.
Furthermore, establishing and nurturing socio-economic and developmental partnerships will help undo the negative images of Africa and people of African descent that is reflected in mainstream media, literature and various other platforms of communication.
The Summit will bring together leaders from over 60 countries comprising of AU Member States, South American countries, AU organs, various organizations working for the Diaspora, and other relevant guests.
For Further Information consult the AU website: www.au.int
The Global Africa Diaspora link on the AU website: http://au.int/en/summit/diasporasummit2012
The South African Website for the Diaspora Summit: www.dirco.gov.za/diaspora
Interview requests should be addressed to the Directorate of Information and Communication, e-mail: YambouE@africa-union.org ; Tel: +251 911 3611 85.
CONTACT: Mr Ahmed El-Basheer A. El-Madani
Head of Diaspora Division