By Temitope Ponle
Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), said the onus lies on Africans, at home and in the diaspora, to rewrite the narrative for a progressive Africa.
Dabiri-Erewa said this at a joint world news conference ahead of the Global African Diaspora Symposium (GADS) on Wednesday in Abuja.
The news conference was held virtually for participants from other countries, and physically for participants in Abuja.
The chairman said the narrative for a progressive Africa was because the African Diaspora had proven their talents, vibrancy and competence in all fields, internationally.
She said there was the need for Africans to continue such positive actions to dismiss the negative perception of its citizens abroad.
“It is good to know that efforts are being made by Africa to effectively harness the human and economic potentials of its diaspora, for continental, national and even grassroots development.
“This is demonstrated in the areas of diaspora remittances, skills and knowledge transfer plus socio-economic investments.”
She also said the GADS would take place on April 27 to 28 in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja.
She said the symposium was the second after the one held in Nairobi, Kenya, in December 2020.
More so, she said, it was inspired by the Declaration of the 2012 Global Diaspora Summit, which recognised the need for Africa to form impactful engagement with its Diaspora.
She said it was also inspired by the African Union’s (AU) first African Global Diaspora Summit in 2021, in which member states promised to partner with one another politically, socially, economically, and in other aspects.
“This is in consonance with the fifth aspiration of the AU Agenda 2063: “The Africa We Want”, which is Africa with a stronger cultural identity and Pan-African movement.
“Also, the Symposium gives Africa, the chance to engage with its Diaspora, and build upon the first African Diaspora Symposium (ADS-2020), held in Nairobi, Kenya, in December 2020, as well as, the maiden outing of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) Diaspora Forum in Luanda, Angola, on December 7, 2022, for its 10th Summit Edition.”
More so, she said, the symposium had as its theme, “Building Stronger Connections between Africa and the Global Diaspora”, and was designed to address and proffer workable solutions to Africa’s most pressing issues.
She also added it would offer strategies and necessary partnerships between important diaspora leaders in business and the professions with leaders, on the African continent, to achieve successful results.
Dabiri-Erewa, however, said few objectives of the symposium were to create an interface for networking among Africans and Diaspora globally, and promote the implementation and institutionalisation of Pan-Africanism at the United Nations.
She said the implantation and institutionalisation would be through the celebration of the “International Decade for People of African Descent”.
She further spoke on other objectives of the symposium, saying “Build bridges between Africa and the Diaspora by deepening relations between the AU, OACPS, among others in realising the Diaspora as the sixth region of the AU.
“Explore and engage the contributions of Diaspora skills, particularly in scientific knowledge and technology transfer.
“Mobilise Diaspora savings and Diaspora philanthropic contributions and harness migration, remittances and Diaspora contributions for suitable development.
“Enhance participation of the Diaspora in Africa’s development process to support the development of the roadmap for the Diaspora as the sixth region of Africa towards the attainment of AU’s Agenda 2063.
“Advocate policy and practice changes conducive for more effective integration of Diaspora-led actions in the national development plans of their countries of origin through organisations such as the OACPS.”
Moreover, she said, GADS was the brain-child of the African Diaspora Alliance, (AfDA), OACPS, NiDCOM, the Directorate for Technical Cooperation for Africa (DTCA) and the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Dabiri-Erewa said the two-day event would be a hybrid one, geared to bring over 3,000 individuals of African descent, worldwide, to have constructive dialogue for better socio-economic opportunities and favourable policies for Africa.
“The symposium will focus on key areas in: science and technology, agriculture, manufacturing and industry, energy, infrastructure development, tourism and culture, green energy and technology, health, information communication technology, education, finance, and economic development, among others.”
Also speaking, the Director-General, DTCA, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Rabiu Dagari, said the symposium was similar to the Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC) that was held in Nigeria in 1977.
Dagari, however, said there was more structure in place, like NiDCOM and the DTCA, to promote the Diaspora community in a positive perception.
“When Nigeria hosted FESTAC ’77, it was sponsored by the Nigerian Government. Nigerians built the town for Africans in Diaspora and for foreigners also. It was a huge success.
“There was a lot of cultural displays and exchanges, and it was the turn of Senegal to host next and when the country saw the success of Nigeria, that it built a town, the money invested, the cultural festival died.”
The director-general also reiterated that the symposium would be intellectual, full of cultural exchanges and contribute to Africans wanting to do more to promote development in their different countries. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Vincent Obi