The remittances sent home every year by the African Diaspora should create a doorway to still greater opportunities, and the key to this door is financial access. While remittances do impact the living standards of beneficiaries directly, the banks that pay out the remittances month after month should offer recipient families a basic financial package including savings accounts, payment services and small loans for microenterprise. This should facilitate growth from current levels of remittances saved and invested. Leveraging of remittances through financial inclusion is certain to increase their development potential.
On June 18 -19, I attended the Diaspora Ministerial Conference on the theme “Diasporas and Development: Bridging between Societies and States” organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Geneva. The conference was the first of its kind to serve as an international platform for diaspora ministries and representatives to discuss the role and contribution of diaspora in development policy. The event brought together some 55 high level government officials from 115 countries with about 500 participants in total.
Extensive thought has been devoted to aid and development and to migration and development. We have thought less however about whether migration could replace development aid, how far and in what conditions. In a book I have just written called, “Development Without Aid: The Decline of Development Aid and the Rise of the Diaspora” (Anthem Press) I try to provide answers.
The principal objection to the replacement idea is that, predominantly, migrant remittances go to private consumption not to investment in public goods. Yet there is much evidence that aid itself has done a poor job on public goods and gets diverted into (conspicuous) consumption, whereas a diaspora can, in fact, provide public goods, while the consumption it generates goes more to basic needs.
My instincts about the problems of development aid grew up with me in British Colonial Nyasaland; deep down therefore the book is based on hunch as much as evidence. But there is much evidence - manifested in well-documented problems of aid fragmentation, dependence, the breakdown of links between governors and governed, clientelism and inducement to corruption. Other systemic issues arise such as the Resource Curse whereby high Aid-to-GNI ratios bid up exchange rates and undermine exports. But beyond these issues the problems of aid are fundamentally about power relationships and ‘ownership’.
Some people view citizenship as like marriage – allegiance to more than one country at once is akin to disloyalty and cheating, and if you want to love a new country you have to give up any allegiance to your old one.
I just attended the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD)in Mauritius last November 21 -22, 2012. It was the first time that the GFMD was chaired by an African country. It was also the first time that the World Bank was invited to be a presenter (we are only observers in these meetings) in the Round Table - Supporting Migrants and Diaspora as Agents of Socioeconomic Change, co chaired by France, Kenya and Morocco. The Bank also wrote jointly with IFAD and IOM the background paper for this session.
At the recent Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Legislative week held in Washington DC, African Diaspora was the focus. Economic development—supporting Africa’s priorities in the areas of jobs, education, gender, health, youth—was one of the main threads that ran through the week-long discussions.
At the session “Africa Rising: A Continent of Opportunity”, Makhtar Diop, the World Bank’s Vice President for Africa, was one of three panelists discussing “Africa’s Growing Economies.” Africa’s average growth has exceeded five percent per year and accelerated to six percent before the global economic crisis. Performance of the 22 non-oil exporting countries averaged higher than four percent annual growth for the decade between 1998 and 2008, all of which he attributed mainly to better macroeconomic policies.
Secretary Hillary Clinton is hosting the second Global Diaspora Forum tomorrow (on July 25th and 26th), in an emphatic recognition of the importance of the diasporas in fostering America's diplomatic and financial relationships with their countries of origin. (The size of diasporas in the US is anecdotally mentioned to be somewhere between 60 to 70 million - we don't know for sure and even worse, we don't yet have a consensus on the definition of diasporas.) To make the event accessible beyond the beltway, many sessions including the Secretary’s remarks will be livestreamed on state.gov. Also some parallel diaspora events are taking place at the same time - for example, a Tedx style event is hosted at the University of Minnesota. I understand that key State Department colleagues involved in the diaspora forum have reached out to Canada, the UK and the EU seeking collaboration on diaspora and development issues. Bravo!
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
A Working Definition of "Open Government"
"I’ve been spending a non-trivial amount of time lately watching and pondering the explosive uptake of the term "open government." This probably isn't too surprising given Global Integrity’s involvement in the nascent Open Government Partnership (OGP). As excited as I've been to witness the growth of OGP, the continued progress of the open data movement, and the emerging norms around citizen participation in government internationally, I've also been worrying that the longer we allow "open government" to mean any and everything to anyone, the risk increases that the term melts into a hollow nothingness of rhetoric.
My most immediate concern, which I've been chronicling of late over on this Tumblr, has been the conflation of "open data" with "open government," an issue well-explored by Harlan Yu and David Robinson in this paper. I've also been publicly concerned about the apparent emphasis put on open data - seemingly at the expense of other open government-related priorities - by the current UK government, which is slated to take over the co-chairmanship of OGP shortly. (An excellent unpacking of those concerns can be found in this letter from leading UK NGOs to the government.)" READ MORE
I met Roselynd Laubhouet in 2004 when, as a recent graduate, she accepted an assignment as a Junior Professional Associate with the World Bank's Africa Region in Washington, D.C. From day one, it was evident that Roselynd was special. Being an entrepreneur at heart, she was filled with dreams, aspirations, and a passion for her home country of Senegal (and her continent) that set her apart.
When Roselynd and I reconnected in Abidjan last December, eight years after our first meeting, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that not only had she moved home to Senegal, but she had also started a successful international business. The journey from bureaucrat to entrepreneur was not easy, but it was clear that--having returned home--Roselynd was realizing her dreams.
I was curious to learn the secrets of her success, to understand the challenges facing returnees, and gather any advice for other Africans in the Diaspora considering a return. Roselynd was kind enough to share her experiences with me in the hopes that other young women in the Diaspora might be inspired to follow in her footsteps.
A recently introduced bipartisan legislation entitled, “The Increasing American Jobs through Greater Exports to Africa Act of 2012 “ will promote the increase of US exports to Africa. On March 22, U.S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) jointly with U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) presented a bill to improve the competitiveness of U.S. business in Africa, including African diaspora businesses. The bill also proposes to explore ways to utilize diaspora remittances to Africa for development purposes.