IOM Ghana’s chief of mission Dyane Epstein said: “The goal of the new site, which is part of an IOM Development Fund-financed project – Linking the Ghanaian Diaspora to Development – is to act as a one-stop shop for all Diaspora-related information and to respond to queries from the Diaspora.”
The launch of the site comes at the same time a Diaspora Support Unit based at Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is launched.
IOM said users of the site could take advantage of its interactive features to contact the unit and sign up for a quarterly newsletter, the first issue of which is expected for release in December.
IOM Ghana is partnering with a number of Ghanaian agencies to ensure a comprehensive and multi-sectoral approach to Diaspora engagement.
Interactive websites could prove instrumental in mobilizing Africans in Diaspora to participate in development of the continent even as an entrepreneurial African Diaspora is on the rise, adding value with their expertise, funds, and time to Africa. A number of countries, such as Ghana, Botswana, and South Africa, are seeing their Diaspora return home, dedicating time to mobilising the continent, reported the Newsweek.
According to Nicole Amarteifio, social media strategist for the World Bank Africa Region, last year alone 10,000 skilled professionals returned to Nigeria and the number of skilled Angolans seeking employment in the motherland has grown 10-fold.
A number of forums, including the African Diaspora Open House, which was recently hosted by the World Bank Africa Region, have adamantly insisted that Africans in the Diaspora must join efforts to mobilise development on the continent through expertise and funds. IOM hopes that websites will play this primary role.
In the United States, Africans have the highest educational attainment rates of any immigrant group. A significant amount of black students at top universities are African or the children of African immigrants. At Harvard University, reports indicate that two-thirds of the black population are first or second generation Africans, with similar estimates at other universities including Brown, Yale, Princeton, Penn, Columbia, Duke and Berkeley.
Amarteifio agrees that, with such education, Africans can tap into such expertise and add value to the development efforts of their countries of origin.
The African consumer segment in the United States is estimated to have a purchasing power of up to US$50 billion. According to the United Nations, however, African countries spend an estimated $4 billion annually to employ about 100,000 non-African expatriates.
“However, as evident by their purchasing power in the U.S., that same purchasing power could be of substantial value to their home countries; their investment power could be even greater,” Amarteifio said.
The African Diaspora has been applauded for their remittances, estimated at billions of dollars.
The IOM is an intergovernmental organization initially established in 1951 as the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM), to help resettle people displaced by World War II.
With 127 member states, a further 17 states holding observer status and offices in over 100 countries, IOM is dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all.
The organisation’s constitution recognises the link between migration and economic, social and cultural development. It has in the past organised elections for refugees, as was the case in the 2004 Afghan elections and the 2005 Iraqi elections.