This brief provides an overview of the role of “Brain Drain”/Diaspora Africans (BDAs) in fostering African progress, in the context of the reality that most accomplished BDAs, for a variety of reasons, are unlikely to return permanently to their home countries anytime soon. It is part of ALPN’s efforts to help fashion and implement the best strategies for BDAs to pool and utilize resources more effectively and innovatively toward faster poverty reduction on the continent:
- BDAs feel (or should feel) the most pain and distress from Africa’s (largely self-inflicted) humiliation — so searingly evident in 2005, the “Year of Africa”, during the build-up to the G8 Summit — and should therefore be much more galvanized into action to help foster progress in the continent.
- BDAs possess immense intellectual, technical, financial, and other resources that remain largely untapped, and which, if more effectively harnessed and utilized, can contribute substantially to African development.
- In recognition of this potential, African and rich-country governments, pan-African and international organizations such as the African Union/NEPAD, the World Bank, etc., and others have made numerous pronouncements about facilitating more effective utilization of the African Diaspora toward African development. However, it remains to be seen whether they will implement anytime soon substantive, large-scale, and high-impact initiatives that can have powerful transformational effects.
- Obviously, BDAs do not have to (and should not) wait around for African governments or pan-African/international organizations before they implement worthwhile initiatives, as many have done already using their own resources. In fact, independent, nongovernmental initiatives are more desirable in many areas such as: fostering transparency and accountability, developing transformational leaders, private investment, etc. And, in certain cases, Diaspora Africans are best-placed and best-equipped to take the lead on initiatives in their areas of expertise.
- Clearly, given the unconducive political and economic climates and poor professional working conditions that persist in most African countries, and the resultant high economic and professional risks (and, in some cases, personal danger) involved, it is unrealistic to expect that accomplished BDAs will relocate permanently to their countries anytime soon. Therefore, the focus should be on realistic “brain gain”/”brain circulation” initiatives that do not involve permanent return. Successful initiatives will in turn help to foster better governance and efficient resource management in critical areas such as education, health, infrastructure, etc. BDAs would thereby be helping to create the conducive political, economic, and professional work environments that will eventually enable them return permanently to their native (or other African) countries.
- Towards this end, this brief provides a framework for resource-pooling by BDAs that will enable them to have much greater impact on African development, with or without help from the “international community.” However, substantial assistance from rich countries, foundations, and wealthy individuals (African and non-African) would, of course, greatly boost the scaling-up or creation of top-quality and high-impact BDA initiatives.
- The brief also provides examples of the types of initiatives that BDAs are well-equipped and well-positioned to implement, as well as information (including links to websites) on some successful BDA initiatives.
This document is a work-in-progress that will be refined/expanded/updated as we receive feedback — critiques, comments and suggestions — from readers (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Help us build powerful, transformational ‘brain gain’/’brain circulation’ networks! Please send any relevant information to: email@example.com.
…The images we saw of Africans at Live 8 on Saturday were the dying, the starving and the desperately impoverished. Postcolonialism in a globalising economy is proving even more humiliating for Africa than colonialism: its huge wealth in natural resources sequestered in secret bank accounts; its commodities commanding ever-smaller prices; its vicious wars with the exported arms of the industrial world; its government policies dictated from Washington and Geneva. Even its suffering exploited to jerk us into attention and to supply our emotional self-gratification. “Humiliated once more: The recent focus on Africa reinforces our perception of it as picturesque, pitiful, psychopathic and passive.” Madeleine Bunting. The Guardian. July 4, 2005
…In a very real sense, the G-8 summit and the whole Save Africa campaign has failed before it has happened. …[T]he majority of the public — most of the private donors — no longer believe that their efforts will achieve very much, let alone provide the one great push that will take the African continent out of poverty into self-sustaining growth for the long-term future. “No one expects G-8’s Africa initiative to work.” Adrian Hamilton, The Independent, June 30, 2005
…A resource that NEPAD would like to tap into with regard to tackling education and training as well as the broader issues of development is the wealth of expertise locked up in the African diaspora. “The brain drain from Africa has damaged the intellectual development and capacity building of the continent,” notes Professor Mboya [Advisor, Education & Training, NEPAD Secretariat]…”The African Union is in the process of recognising the diaspora as a sixth region and we would like to see them organised to be strong enough to have a voice in development. “NEPAD’s commitment to educating the continent”, isa-africa.com, Sept 8, 2005
…The African diaspora have long contributed to developing capacity in their country of origin, through activities such as setting up facilities, institutions and conferences. However, it is crucial that better use is made of their enormous potential. One such example is making greater use of skilled expatriates to train African nationals as part of exchange processes. Report of the Blair Commission for Africa – Chapter 4: Getting Systems Right: Governance and Capacity-Building
…There is no question that knowledge development is the most important thing. Investment in people when they are still at an age to learn, which is to say young people, is incredibly important. If you do it right, it pays back for 50, 60 years. If you miss that opportunity, you have a lost generation and I think it’s got to be critical. I think the African Diaspora is a fantastic asset and we do need to figure out how to make better use of it. …And I think, I guess, I am happy to work with you on anything we can do to reverse that brain drain. “Corruption Takes Two, Wolfowitz Tells Business Leaders” (Text of remarks by World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz at the Corporate Council on Africa dinner), June 25, 2005
…To unlock the vast human potential of Africa, we will work with Africa to create an environment where its most capable citizens, including teachers and healthcare workers, see a long-term future on the continent. The G8 Communique on Africa – 2005 Gleneagles Summit
During the buildup to the G8 Summit in July 2005, perhaps no group of Africans felt (or should have felt) more humiliated and distressed than “Brain Drain”/Diaspora Africans (BDAs) residing in rich countries, as Africans were sometimes depicted in the international media, usually with disturbing and depressing video images, as hapless, helpless, inept, starving, wretched, and pitiable people who cannot do much for themselves. And, of course, many African leaders have continued to engage in the destructive behaviors that perpetuate Africa’s dismal image as a continent that is pathologically prone to obscene violence and serial eruptions of conflict and wars in one country after another.
The Guardian’s Madeleine Bunting, for example, observed as the G8 Summit convened:
- …What we are seeing now in this unprecedented media focus on Africa is a very old theme. In 1787 the slogan of the Quaker abolitionists was “Am I not a man and a brother?” But the radicalism of this rallying cry was belied by the image on the Anti-Slavery Society’s seal of the African slave – he was on his knees. His liberty and dignity was ours for the giving, not his for the taking. The relationship at this G8, more than 200 years later, is similarly framed: African as supplicant to the (mostly) white men. An entire continent has been reduced to a “scar on the conscience of the world”, stripped of its dignity and left more powerless than at any intervening point since 1787.
- The images we saw of Africans at Live 8 on Saturday were the dying, the starving and the desperately impoverished. Postcolonialism in a globalising economy is proving even more humiliating for Africa than colonialism: its huge wealth in natural resources sequestered in secret bank accounts; its commodities commanding ever-smaller prices; its vicious wars with the exported arms of the industrial world; its government policies dictated from Washington and Geneva. Even its suffering exploited to jerk us into attention and to supply our emotional self-gratification.
- To the partying Hyde Park crowd, Kofi Annan said “thank you”. But for what? Blair’s Africa agenda is yet another expression of what Professor John Lonsdale, the Cambridge historian of Africa, described in a lecture last week as “the self-righteously civilising mission of the past two centuries” of Europe towards its neighbour. He concluded that “it is a construction that infantilises not only Africans, unable to fend for themselves, but us too, like babies demanding the instant gratification of self-importance”. “Humiliated once more: The recent focus on Africa reinforces our perception of it as picturesque, pitiful, psychopathic and passive.” Madeleine Bunting. The Guardian. July 4, 2005
There is also increasing skepticism that more aid from rich countries will have a substantial impact on African progress, in light of the unique nature of the so-called “African predicament”–The Independent’s Adrian Hamilton:
- …In a very real sense, the G-8 summit and the whole Save Africa campaign has failed before it has happened. …[T]he majority of the public — most of the private donors — no longer believe that their efforts will achieve very much, let alone provide the one great push that will take the African continent out of poverty into self-sustaining growth for the long-term future.
- This year’s concentration on Africa — the Africa Commission, Live8, the effort to wipe out debt for the most impoverished — seeks to get the public behind the theme of “one great heave and we can solve Africa’s problems.” We owe the continent a once-in-a-lifetime effort out of compassion and duty. And we could really do it this time. I doubt that many people believe this any more. I doubt that there are even that many people who really believe that the G-8 generosity, however much it may amount to, will do that much good. Instead of a surge of gathering hope, there seems instead to be a mood of sad resignation that, with the best of intentions, we are largely wasting our money.
- Indeed, one of the most extraordinary and perhaps most significant features of the Africa debate has been the way it has brought together, for quite different reasons, the ideological opposites of those who believe aid is wasted on economic grounds and those Africans who reject what they regard as the patronizing and ill-directed manner in which the white West is offering it. Both say that financial help is not the answer. Better governance within Africa is.
- As if to prove their point, this year has seen both the massacres and dispossession in Darfur and the more recent slum clearances — “drive out the rubbish” as Robert Mugabe has so delicately named it — in Zimbabwe. Nothing could be so calculated to disabuse the world of any enthusiasm for state aid to Africa than the sight of these brutalities or the evident inability of the rest of Africa or the West to do anything about them…”No one expects G-8’s Africa initiative to work. Adrian Hamilton, The Independent, June 30, 2005
Obviously, whether or not the G8 and other rich countries choose to provide more assistance to African countries, it is ultimately incumbent on Africans themselves to ensure that their leaders judiciously utilize whatever resources their countries have, however meager, to alleviate poverty as much as possible.
As often noted, such judicious management would obviate the need for aid in many countries, especially resource-rich ones that should never have needed to beg for aid handouts in the first place. It would also prevent much of the (often man-made) strife and humanitarian crises, and the associated gruesome, haunting and humiliating images of the continent, that are broadcast on TV screens worldwide.
Surely, if accomplished BDAs previously lacked strong motivation, the global humiliation of the continent in 2005 – which clearly did not seem to bother many African leaders, whose priorities continue to be consolidating power and amassing wealth at the expense of the poor – should now galvanize them to become more proactive and do something about the continent’s problems, especially with respect to leadership and governance.
As we have previously argued, Africans themselves have the ultimate responsibility for building leadership and governance capacity in their countries, with or without help from the international community–this is the one area where Africans can take charge of their countries’ destinies, and BDAs are well-placed to take the lead in this regard. [See ALPN’s briefs:
- Leadership & Governance Capacity Building in African Countries: Why and How Well-Off and Accomplished Africans, Especially “Brain Drain” Africans, Should Proactively Take Charge of Fostering African Progress and
- After the 2005 G8 and UN Summits: Independent, High-Impact Information Infrastructures and Networks for Transparency and Accountability in African Countries.]
To be sure, many Diaspora African groups and individuals have successfully implemented several useful projects at local, community, sub-national, national, and continental levels. And, of course, remittances of funds from Diaspora Africans have had major economic impacts in their homelands. [Information on initiatives and trends, and Web links to websites, are provided in the Appendix below and on ALPN’s Research/Information Portal page: Brain Drain, Brain Gain, Brain Circulation, Diaspora Africans, and Capacity Building in Africa. ALPN is building a comprehensive Web-based global database of initiatives, organizations, and networks; readers can help by sending relevant information to: firstname.lastname@example.org.]
However, while most Diaspora Africans want to contribute to African progress, for a variety of reasons (limited resources and capacity, etc.), only a small fraction of them are actively involved in high-impact initiatives, which therefore remain largely small-scale and of limited scope. Thus BDAs’ collective impact on African development has remained far short of what is potentially achievable if their resources were more effectively harnessed and leveraged.
In light of the limited accomplishments, the challenge for Diaspora Africans is therefore to develop much more innovative and effective strategies for pooling their immense, but largely untapped, intellectual, technical, financial and other resources and implement initiatives on much more substantive scales, in order to have much greater impact on African progress.
Diaspora Africans in Western countries are particularly well-positioned to make substantial contributions in areas such as: research, analysis, information dissemination, networking and partnerships, capacity building, training, mentoring, counseling, technical assistance, advocacy, etc. in their respective areas of expertise and interest. Examples of initiatives are provided at the end of this document.
With the numerous options made possible by modern information and communications technologies, implementing initiatives would require only short visits by BDAs to their home countries, and this may not even be necessary in some cases. In other cases, especially where governments are repressive, high-impact initiatives outside the countries would be more effective. Furthermore, substantial financial resources may not be required–innovative use of technology at modest cost can be highly effective for establishing strong global networks and pooling intellectual and technical resources, which BDAs possess in abundance.
Of course, help from the international community — rich countries, foundations, and wealthy organizations and individuals — would make a big difference by greatly boosting such efforts. For example, as we argue in another brief, a fund that provides substantial financing — through a highly competitive, purely merit-based process — for establishing top-quality, independent initiatives that focus sharply on transparency and accountability could become a powerful force for addressing the much-discussed governance problems in Africa. Most highly competent BDAs, who have the requisite expertise but spend much of their time lamenting the failures of leaderships in the continent, would obviously jump at the chance to be actively involved in such initiatives with strong motivation and dedication.
In recognition of the substantial contributions BDAs can make, African and rich-country governments, pan-African and international institutions such as the African Union/NEPAD, World Bank, etc., and others have made numerous pronouncements about their desire to facilitate more effective utilization of Diaspora Africans’ resources for African development.
Following a declaration in February 2003, the African Union is reportedly “in the process of recognising the diaspora as a sixth region and we would like to see them organised to be strong enough to have a voice in development”, according to Professor Mboya, Advisor for Education & Training at the NEPAD Secretariat [“NEPAD’s commitment to educating the continent”, isa-africa.com, Sept 8, 2005].
Also, as the international community focused on Africa in 2005, the Blair Commission for Africa, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, and the G8 made encouraging statements about providing support for human capital development in Africa and the crucial role BDAs can play in this regard:
- Report of the Commission for Africa – Chapter 4: “Getting Systems Right: Governance and Capacity-Building”: “…The African diaspora have long contributed to developing capacity in their country of origin, through activities such as setting up facilities, institutions and conferences. However, it is crucial that better use is made of their enormous potential. One such example is making greater use of skilled expatriates to train African nationals as part of exchange processes….To be effective in Africa, centres of excellence must have several key characteristics. They can be both physical centres and virtual networks of research that are internationally competitive. …They also need to engage with local communities, the government, the African diaspora and international partners to ensure that science extends beyond the laboratory into everyday life and that Africa participates in the global knowledge community.”
- World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, in response to a question on capacity building and the brain drain: “There is no question that knowledge development is the most important thing. Investment in people when they are still at an age to learn, which is to say young people, is incredibly important. If you do it right, it pays back for 50, 60 years. If you miss that opportunity, you have a lost generation and I think it’s got to be critical. I think the African Diaspora is a fantastic asset and we do need to figure out how to make better use of it. …And I think, I guess, I am happy to work with you on anything we can do to reverse that brain drain.” “Corruption Takes Two, Wolfowitz Tells Business Leaders” (Text of remarks by World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz at the Corporate Council on Africa dinner), June 25, 2005
- “Africa: A historic opportunity” – G8 Communique on Africa – 2005 Gleneagles Summit: “…To unlock the vast human potential of Africa, we will work with Africa to create an environment where its most capable citizens, including teachers and healthcare workers, see a long-term future on the continent. …We will work to achieve these aims by…helping develop skilled professionals for Africa’s private and public sectors, through supporting networks of excellence between African’s (sic) and other countries’ institutions of higher education and centres of excellence in science and technology institutions.”
It remains to be seen, however, whether the African Union, the World Bank, the G8, and others will soon match their statements with substantive, large-scale, and high-impact initiatives that can have powerful transformational effects.
Clearly, given the unconducive political and economic climates and poor professional working conditions that persist in most African countries, and the resultant high economic and professional risks (and, in some cases, personal danger) involved, it is unrealistic to expect that most accomplished BDAs will choose to relocate permanently to their countries anytime soon, even when offered what may appear to be generous incentives. As in the case of the investment climate and capital flight problem, even in countries where governance is improving significantly, it will be several years before conditions are conducive enough for permanent return of BDAs on a substantial scale.
Hence, permanent relocation efforts have had very limited success and the need to think beyond the unrealistic approach of simply “reversing the brain drain” in this way is obvious. [For links to websites and several reports, articles, etc. on this and related issues, visit ALPN’s Research/Information Portal page: Brain Drain, Brain Gain, Brain Circulation, Diaspora Africans, and Capacity Building in Africa.]
NEPAD’s Mboya, for example, “acknowledges that most of these people cannot be brought back but NEPAD is encouraging them to consider how they can make an investment back into the continent. …’We would like to see them participating in institutions in Africa for development or investing in business activities on the continent,’ …” [“NEPAD’s commitment to educating the continent”, Sept 8, 2005]
Efforts must therefore be largely focused on the “diaspora option”, i.e., more realistic approaches that do not involve permanent return. [For extensive discussions, see: “Africa’s options: return, retention or diaspora?” Wisdom J. Tettey. May 2003 and Reversing the Brain Drain, Harnessing the Diaspora. Special Feature. eAfrica – The Electronic Journal of Governance and Innovation. Sept 2003. South African Institute of International Affairs]
Examples of “Brain Gain” or “Brain Circulation” approaches are:
- Short-term education, training, research, capacity building, technical assistance, and other programs (in science & technology, business, medicine, education, law, etc.), where projects might require short or extended visits to home countries. Many projects would typically involve active collaborations with counterpart professionals resident in African countries.
- “Knowledge networks”, “virtual networks”, “virtual linkages”, publishing, etc., which facilitate exchange of ideas, information dissemination, discussion groups, knowledge and technology transfer, capacity building, collaborations, advocacy, etc., all of which will continue to be made easier by advancements in Internet & other modern information and communications technologies.
Eventually, African governments and the African Union/NEPAD will, hopefully, come up with programs that will enable them to effectively utilize Diaspora Africans using these and other approaches. However, BDAs do not have to (and should not) wait around for African governments or pan-African/international organizations before they implement worthwhile initiatives, as many have done already using their own resources. In fact, independent, nongovernmental initiatives are more desirable in many areas such as: fostering transparency and accountability, developing exceptional young people with leadership talent into visionary and transformational leaders, private investment, etc.
Success in these areas — where many initiatives do not even require BDAs to be physically present in their native or other African countries — will in turn help to foster better governance and efficient management of resources in critical areas such as education, health, infrastructure, etc. Ultimately, such contributions will lead to the creation of the conducive political, economic, and professional work environments that will make many BDAs decide to return permanently to their native (or other African) countries. In effect, BDAs, most of whom would like to relocate permanently to Africa as quickly as possible, would be working to hasten their return if they pool their resources and utilize them to make their countries better.
In several areas, Diaspora Africans are best-positioned and best-equipped to lead efforts in their areas of interest and expertise by virtue of their unique attributes:
- their geographic locations–access, connections, and proximity to global political, policy, and financial power centers; for example, in Washington, DC, New York, and European capitals: advocacy on the Africa-related policies of the US, European Union, G8, World Bank, IMF, etc.; facilitation of private investment, networks and partnerships; etc.
- their demonstrated capabilities and expertise–as highly accomplished professionals in very competitive professional fields and environments
- their access to resources and knowledge networks that are not easily available to counterparts in their home countries
- their multi-faceted knowledge and understanding of (a) their home countries’ political, economic, social, and cultural environments, and (b) issues and trends in their countries of residence and the global geopolitical and economic environment, and their abilities to bridge differences
- their ability to develop strong and effective professional relationships and collaborations with individuals, organizations, or teams of professionals in their native countries, based on connections and long-term relationships with former schoolmates, friends, relatives, etc., many of whom occupy top and influential positions in the public, private, academic, and civil society sectors
- their strong personal, patriotic, economic, emotional and psychological connections with their native societies, as well as their distress about slow progress in their countries and Africa’s dismal image, which translate into a strong sense of responsibility, passion, and motivation to help alleviate poverty in the continent
- their better knowledge of their countries compared to the foreign experts who are usually sent there at great cost–most Diaspora Africans with comparable professional qualifications would be willing to accept much less financial compensation for providing the same services, in light of the additional “social return” they will get by contributing to their countries’ progress and helping to create the conducive climate that will enable their permanent return.
While there are extensive analyses and documentation of the activities, performance, and impact of other (older, larger, or more developed) diasporas — Asian, Latin American, etc. — in helping to foster progress in their countries, there is very little of such information on Diaspora Africans beyond anecdotal reports. [See, for example: Presentations at the “Global Workshop on Leveraging Diasporas of the Highly Skilled”, Buenos Aires, Argentina, April 26-27, 2005.]
A 2003 report on the performance of the South African Diaspora Network, a World Bank-funded initiative, provides some insights on developing an African diaspora network: South African Diaspora Network – Final Report Prepared for the World Bank Group, University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Graduate School of Business, Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Two recent attempts to examine the potential of African diaspora organizations are:
1. Semantics Aside: the Role of the African Diaspora in Africa’s Capacity Building Efforts, a study conducted by the Association for Higher Education and Development (AHEAD), an Ethiopian-Canadian Diaspora organization. The study “revealed emerging Diaspora efforts to assume a more active role in Africa’s development…(and) examined the potential of virtual participation to facilitate an effective and sustained Diaspora commitment to Africa’s development efforts.” It concluded that “virtual participation has tremendous potential to channel the untapped intellectual and material input from the African Diaspora. Moreover, it recorded a growing awareness among the African Diaspora of its moral, intellectual, and social responsibility to contribute to Africa’s development efforts.” (The study, funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), employs Ethiopia as a case study.) Related information:
- Stakeholder Roundtable – Engaging the African Diaspora in Africa’s Capacity Building Efforts. November 12, 2004. International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Ottawa, Canada. Organized by Association for Higher Education and Development (AHEAD)
- “Stopping the Brain Drain from Africa: Their Loss, Our Gain”, Ainalem Tebeje and Clyde Sanger, Sept 2004
2. A “Diaspora Survey” conducted by the Ford Foundation’s TrustAfrica (formerly The Special Initiative for Africa), to:
- provide “… an overview of the Diaspora community in the United States, and of its leading actors (organizations and professionals) committed to promoting Africa’s development…”
- provide “…background information and analysis about African Diaspora philanthropy”
- “…identify opportunities and make specific recommendations for TrustAfrica to partner with Diaspora. Emphasis will be on the potential for resource development for TrustAfrica, primarily in terms of fundraising. The report should also consider ways to take advantage of the human resources of the Diaspora and acknowledging the crucial role members of the Diaspora play in Africa’s development.” –TrustAfrica Diaspora Survey: Call For Proposals
[TrustAfrica has not made the survey report publicly available.]
- While these reports provide useful information and insights, there is a need for additional sources of up-to-date and comprehensive information (strategic blueprints, guides, periodic reports, newsletters, websites, etc.) that can galvanize Diaspora action, such as:
- brain gain and brain circulation trends
- the profiles and activities of Diaspora African organizations and networks worldwide — especially in the United States and Europe — and how they are contributing to African progress
- the difficulties typically faced by such organizations and networks in the development and implementation of their projects, and how to overcome them
- successes, failures, deficiencies, lessons learned, best approaches and strategies, etc., based on the experiences of various Diaspora organizations, African as well as Asian, Latin American, etc.
- Recommendations for Diaspora Africans with respect to:
- needs assessment and the most appropriate areas of focus
- realistic options and strategies for action and best approaches to ensure high impact
- applicability/adaptability of approaches, strategies, and innovations to specific countries or regions
- potential obstacles and possible pitfalls to avoid (e.g., political issues; conflicts between BDAs and local elites, experts, or collaborators; hostility from home country bureaucrats and others; etc.)
- formation of networks and development and implementation of initiatives
- information dissemination and advocacy for fundraising, increased participation and contributions by BDAs, etc.
Stand-alone projects that can be implemented to accomplish the above include:
1. Publication of a comprehensive and authoritative report that provides detailed and up-to-date information on Diaspora African initiatives (as outlined above), including blueprints and strategies for network development and action, issues and trends, etc.
2. A Web site that will serve as a medium for worldwide information dissemination and online discourse on Diaspora organizations and networks, pertinent issues and trends, and how best Diaspora Africans can contribute to African progress. [ALPN has already started doing this through this brief and other publications, information dissemination, and advocacy on its Research/Information Portal Website: http://www.africanprogress.net/
3. Publication of a monthly or quarterly online newsletter that chronicles, synthesizes, and disseminates information on key developments and trends relating to the issues covered in the report.
4. Advocacy and worldwide information dissemination to encourage Diaspora Africans to join or form organizations and networks, provide them with useful information on appropriate approaches and strategies, help with fundraising and project implementation, promote innovative strategies; etc. (through websites, publications, conferences, seminars, etc.).
5. Development and management of Web-based databases of African Diaspora organizations and networks–to facilitate exchange and discussion of ideas and information, networking, collaborations, resource-pooling, etc. [ALPN is currently building such a database.]
Vigorous and effective initiatives along these lines will help to harness the immense, but largely untapped, financial, intellectual, and other resources of “Brain Drain”/Diaspora Africans into a much more potent, high-impact force for African progress–by strengthening existing organizations and networks, facilitating the formation of new ones, and boosting their overall effectiveness and impact.
Examples of the types of high-impact initiatives that BDAs are well-positioned and well-equipped to implement include:
1. Capacity building and information dissemination to help foster transparency, accountability, and good governance in African countries–public financial management (revenues, budgets, etc.), access to information, etc. For more information on this topic, see, for example:
- ALPN’s briefs/portal pages:
- “After the 2005 G8 and UN Summits: Independent, High-Impact Information Infrastructures and Networks for Transparency and Accountability in African Countries”
- “Leadership & Governance Capacity Building in African Countries: Why and How Well-Off and Accomplished Africans, Especially “Brain Drain” Africans, Should Proactively Take Charge of Fostering African Progress”
- “The Resource Curse – Governance – Transparency – Corruption – Natural Resource Management”
- Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) Resource and Budget Initiative for Transparency (ORBIT)
2. Collaborations with organizations or initiatives that work on governance and transparency issues such as: Publish What You Pay Coalition, The Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project (AfriMAP), Africa Budget Project, International Budget Project, Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), Bank Information Center, Global Witness, etc.
3. Monitoring, assessment, and advocacy relating to: the Africa-related policies of the US, EU, G8, World Bank, IMF, etc.; development and implementation of World Bank, IFC & African Development Bank projects; etc. See, for example: Bank Information Center’s Africa Program.
4. Provision of financial, intellectual, technical and other resources to reputable and effective civil society organizations, or formation of new ones, in African and other countries in areas such as: governance/transparency/accountability/corruption, human rights, media/information, leadership development, conflict resolution, health, education, political and economic freedom, etc.
5. Financial innovations for entrepreneurship and private sector/small & medium-size enterprise development–for example, access to domestic and foreign capital, access to foreign & domestic markets, etc.
6. Formation of investment funds that invest in small & medium-size businesses, economic development projects, etc. See, for example: Africa Diaspora Investment Forum
7. Collaborations on projects with other professionals resident in African countries in various areas of expertise: health, business/finance, science & technology, law, media/information/publishing, education, Internet/IT, etc.