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African Union and African Heads of State Prepare for Upcoming Global Diaspora Summit

  • The historic Global Diaspora Summit is testimony to Africa’s high-level commitment to engage the Diaspora in the continent’s advancement
  • Many events will follow the upcoming Summit to keep the Diaspora involved in Africa’s development progress
  • The Summit will include member states, international development partners and civil society members

WASHINGTON, April 6, 2012 -- How can the global African Diaspora be meaningfully engaged in the continent's development?

The African Union (AU) has been using its convening power to formally define the Diaspora's role in Africa's development and create mechanisms for constructive Diaspora engagement since 2003. This process, involving member states, international development partners and civil society will culminate during the Global Diaspora Summit on May 25th in South Africa.

The Summit, which will bring together African heads of state, is testimony to Africa's high-level commitment to engage the global Diaspora in the continent's advancement. The Global Diaspora Summit's Draft Declaration outlines an ambitious agenda for political, economic, and social collaboration with the global Diaspora. If adopted, this declaration will galvanize AU cooperation with other regional organizations, particularly the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), The Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), the Community of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Arab League. It will also institutionalize processes of African cooperation, commit the African Union and its member governments to pursue specific projects with the African Diaspora, and create mechanisms to ensure that decisions taken at the summit are implemented in a timely way.

The World Bank's African Diaspora Program has been a partner in the African Union's efforts since 2007. World Bank support has included a series of Institutional Development Fund grants aimed at strengthening the Diaspora Affairs Directorate and supporting its implementation of high-priority activities, including preparations leading up to the Global Diaspora Summit. This partnership has provided the African Diaspora Program team with unique insight on the road from the Third Ordinary Session of the Executive Council held in Maputo, Mozambique in July 2003, to the Global Diaspora Summit scheduled to take place next month.

"This is a historic moment for Africa and her Diaspora," said Richard Cambridge, former Manager of the World Bank's African Diaspora Program. "The African Union, member states and civil society organizations around the world have all been engaged in creating and following a concrete roadmap for Diaspora engagement which will permanently alter Africa's relationship with her Diaspora and we look forward to accompanying the AU and the Diaspora on this journey."

The Global Diaspora Summit is a critical first step, which will be followed by many other events and activities. The first of these events will be a Summit Follow-up Meeting of Diaspora Ministries, scheduled for July 2012 in Abuja, Nigeria. This event will bring together Diaspora practitioners from the AU's 54 member states and AU officials. This formidable team will define a coherent and mutually supportive implementation strategy for Summit outcomes and will also prioritize specific projects for feasibility studies, including creation of a groundbreaking Diaspora Volunteer Corps.

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