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African Diaspora Are Agents For African Economic Transformation - Spio-Garbrah
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Former Trade and Industry Minister, Dr Ekow Spio-Garbrah
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Former Trade and Industry Minister Ekow Spio-Garbrah has identified the millions of Africans in Diaspora as potential agents for the transformation of the African continent.

Dr. Spio-Garbrah delivering a keynote speech at an international conference on the African Diaspora in Nairobi, Kenya hosted by the Kenya Diaspora Network and the Diaspora Investment Club mentioned that the pre-independence movement in Africa was largely propelled by Africans who had gone to study mainly in Britain, France and the United States.

“These returnee Africans which included Kwame Nkrumah, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Jomo Kenyatta, Leopold Senghor, Houghbouet Boigny, Julius Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda, Kamuzu Banda and others, returned to their countries after acquiring knowledge and exposure overseas, and used that experience to liberate their countries from colonial rule,” former Trade and Industry Minister indicated.

In the gathering of about 500 politicians, academics, business tycoons, professionals and youth leaders, Spio-Garbrah charged saying that it is time for the current crop of Africans who remain overseas and those returning from the Diaspora with cutting-edge experience in foreign countries to also work collaboratively to liberate the African continent economically.

“ . . the time has come for the current crop of Africans who remain overseas and those returning from the Diaspora, who had this time obtained cutting-edge experience in foreign countries to also work collaboratively to liberate the African continent, but this time economically, financially and technologically,” he emphasized.

Dr Spio-Garbrah again noted that whereas the pre-independence Africans in Diaspora have to do blue collar works as train attendants, cleaners and washers and blue collar factory workers, the recent and current cadre of Diaspora returnees had been blessed to work in cutting edge environments.

“Today’s Diaspora returnee is likely to have worked on Wall Street, Silicon Valley, NASA, the financial districts of London or France, or India. Others are returning to Africa after being professors and lecturers in a wide range of fields. If the earlier group of Diasporas, with their relatively limited education, work experience and exposure could succeed in bringing political independence to Africa, then their more fortunate successors in Diaspora cannot have any excuse for allowing Africa to remain in its current conditions,” Spio-Garbrah averred.

The former Ambassador to United States of America however told the gathering that some African countries like Ethiopia, Cape Verde and Egypt along with some non-African countries such as the Philippines, South Korea and India seem to be doing better job than others by tracking down their citizens overseas, data-basing relevant information on their nationals, and taking pro-active measures to tap into the brain power and expertise of these nationals.

Giving Africa’s continued developmental challenges, Dr Spio-Garbrah was of the view that African countries could do much more through their governments, the private sector, academia and professionals to use information and communication technologies (ITCs) to establish networks of knowledge to assist the transformation agenda of most countries.

The former Minister of Education underscored the importance for Africans who travel overseas to invest in acquiring knowledge and technical skills which are relevant to Africa’s industrialization and modernization.

He therefore lauded African countries such as Cape Verde and Ethiopia for making effective use of their Diaspora communities to harness their remittances and technical knowledge in specific programmes that had helped to transform their countries.

He indicated that most African governments are yet to put in place attractive policies, rules, regulations or laws that would overtly seek out and incentivise their nationals abroad to return.

He mentioned again that the internet and the networking power of social media today, have given tremendous boost to what Diaspora networks could do to identify themselves and mobilize their capacities for the benefit of Africa.

Amongst the speakers at the conference were Speaker of the Kenyan Senate, the Director General for East Africa of the African Development Bank, representives from the African Union, the East African Community and the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA).

Two days earlier, Dr Spio-Garbrah had delivered a lecture on “Critical Success Factors that Impact e-Infrastructure and e-Services for Transforming Africa”, to some 100 ICT and computer science professors, lecturers, professionals, practitioners and graduate students at a conference in Lagos, Nigeria.

The conference was hosted by the University of Lagos’ Faculty of Computing Sciences, and was held under the auspices of the European Alliance on Innovation and sponsored by a number of major Nigerian telecom sector companies.
Source: Daniel Adu Darko/Peacefmonline.com/[email protected]

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