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High Level Forum of the Global Forum on Migration and Development Addresses the Diaspora as Resource

  • Experts from around the world gathered to discuss efficient ways to harness resources within the African Diaspora
  • Participants also examined the best way to benefit from migrants
  • The HLF is one of three mutually reinforcing preparatory events toward the upcoming Global Forum on Migration and Development summit this fall

PORT LOUIS, June 14, 2012 -- About 80 experts from around the world gathered at a two-day high-level forum (HLF) of the Global Forum on Migration and Development in Mauritius, sharing experiences on the most efficient way to harness human, technical and financial resources existing within the African Diaspora.  They also examined the best way to benefit from migrants and Diaspora as agents of socio‐economic change.

”It is in Africa’s interest to make use of the Diaspora,” emphasized Rafael Muñoz Moreno, Country Representative of the World Bank in Mauritius.

Officially, recorded remittance flows to Sub-Saharan Africa exceeded US$22 billion in 2011. However, in spite of the high potential that can be brought by these resources to the development of the continent in terms of mobility, skills development, trade and investments, African countries lack systems/organized arrangements for engaging the Diaspora in transformative development.

“There is a need for designs of region‐wide and country specific comprehensive engagement policy frameworks to enhance the development prospects of Africa with Diaspora resources,” said Dr. Kofi Anani, the World Bank’s Task Team Leader for the HLF.

Bakari Cissé, director of the Mali Higher Education Project, said “three sectors should be considered as top priorities: education at the university level, health, and food security.”

“Governments should have the political will to include Diaspora in the design of their strategies of development,” he said. “But on the other hand, Diaspora members should organize themselves and cultivate the culture of entrepreneurship, especially in small and medium scale enterprises.”

Participants expressed their satisfaction at the closing session, even though they all agreed that this will be an evolutionary process, and will require time.

 “We saw very technical and concrete discussions,” said Sonia Plaza, senior economist with the World Bank’s Development Economics Prospects group. “It was one of the best if not the best of the workshops on this topic I ever attended.”

Since January 2012, Mauritius has served the Chair of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), and is the first African country to assume this responsibility. The HLF was one of three mutually reinforcing preparatory events toward the Global Forum on Migration and Development summit that will take place in Port-Louis in November 2012.  

“My country’s goal was to give to the GFMD summit an African flavor. At this high-level forum, we wanted a discussion in Africa on an African agenda” said H.E. Shree Servansing, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Mauritius to the United Nations in Geneva, at the closing session. “We wanted to bring African experts and officials, but we were also able to bring experts from outside of Africa into an interactive dialogue in setting the agenda.”

One of such experts, Victoria Garchitorena representing the Civil Society of the Philippines, emphasized that “there are communalities and common interest in sharing the experiences and learning from other countries.”  

Loukou Kouamé from Cote d’Ivoire acknowledged this importance of cross-borders dialogue. “We were paying institutions for things that are already done by other institutions present in this room, because we are not communicating and are working in silos.”

The HLF was co-organized by the World Bank’s Africa Region through its African Diaspora Program (ADP) and the Government of Mauritius, with a financial contribution of the European Commission (EC) through the African Institute for Remittances (AIR) project.

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