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. Africa’s large diaspora has mainly been seen as an asset to African countries only in terms of remittances. And the diaspora has been performing well in this area. For some countries, remittances is the greatest source of foreign reserve.
As important as remittances are, 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. African governments should take the time and effort to know what their diaspora looks like so that they can target it more effectively. Whilst some population is the diaspora have tremendous knowledge is different disciplines, some have done very well in business. It is important for African governments to keep track of the diaspora since they (diaspora) can play an important role in development.
One big problem that the diaspora face returning to their home country is the un-ending red tape. Reginald Mengi, a famous businessman in Tanzania, once said that “it is easier for a foreigner to invest in Tanzania than for a native Tanzanian.” This is unacceptable. African governments need to involve the diaspora much more and the diaspora need to recognize the endless opportunities on offer in their home countries.
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.
With regard to the private sector, African banks should look to diaspora members as potential clients. More local African commercial banks or telecommunication companies should engage their diasporas in innovative ways to bring down transfer costs and mobilize deposits for development purposes.