Report of the Joint AUC/ADNE Workshop on “Leveraging Remittances and Diaspora Contributions towards Sustainable Development of Africa”

Friday, 7 October 2016

 

 

Introduction

The workshop on “Leveraging Remittances and Diaspora Contributions towards Sustainable Development of Africa” was organised jointly by the Permanent Mission of the African Union (AU) to the European Union and Observer to the ACP Group of States and the African Diaspora Network in Europe (ADNE)  to celebrate the Global Diaspora Week (GDW) from 7-14 October 2016 with the objective of having a clear assessment of the current context in which the contribution of the diaspora, particularly remittances, can be leveraged for the development of Africa; share experiences on positive and customizable initiatives in the African continent;  and  identify innovative instruments of tapping diaspora financing potential. The GDW is a week dedicated to diaspora communities and their contributions to global development and is intended to create awareness, enable collaboration and enhance learning amongst those working with diaspora communities in different locations around the world.

Participation

The workshop was attended by officials from various international and diaspora organisations, including: the Permanent Mission of the African Union (AU) to the European Union and Observer to the ACP Group of States, the African Embassies Group,  the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Belgian Ministry of Development Cooperation, the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Institute for Conflict Management, International Organisation for Migration (IOM), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Friends of Europe.

 

 Opening Ceremony

 

 Mrs. Marie Chantal UWITONZE (President of ADNE) welcomed participants to the workshop and provided some historical background to the GDW. Setting the scene for the event, Ms UWITONZE reminded that the meeting was an opportunity for everyone to think about the added value of migration, as those who failed to understand diversity create barriers. She described remittances as not only contributing to the achievement of the SDGs but the first line of defence in crises and disasters. It is therefore time to renew cooperation with those who are directly positioned to impact positively on the Diaspora. She also explained the mission of ADNE as an umbrella organisation for African diaspora in Europe which is to support the efforts of the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU) and Countries of origin in promoting the optimal utilization of African Diaspora expertise. ADNE provides a platform for constructive dialogue, coordination of efforts, capacity building and knowledge sharing to empower and facilitate African Diaspora endeavours for sustainable development of Africa.

Mrs. UWITONZE further informed that they are in the process of establishing an African Diaspora Skills Database (ADSD) to help map available skills in key areas and sectors among the diaspora in Europe. The ADSD will also map the sectors with high growth potential as well as link potential qualified personnel with employers both in Africa and Europe. The overall objective of the ADSD is to strengthen capacity building efforts in Africa by optimal utilisation of diaspora expertise.

Mr. Mohamed Igueh OFLEH, on behalf of Ambassador Ajay K. BRAMDEO - AU Permanent Representative, informed the audience about the initiatives by the African Union Commission (AUC) to leverage the diaspora for socio-economic development of Africa. In recognition of the strategic importance of the Diaspora, the AUC established the Citizens and Diaspora Directorate (CIDO) with an overall mission of interfacing with the wider African society. Furthermore, the AU has called on all AU Member States to establish Dual Citizenship Programs by 2023 as well as establish diaspora focal points within government. In 2012, the Global African Diaspora Summit adopted the Legacy Projects as a way of giving practical meaning to the Diaspora programme. The projects include (i) African Institute for Remittances (ii) African Diaspora Skills Database (iii) African Diaspora Global Marketplace (iv) African Diaspora Investment Fund, and (v) African Diaspora Volunteer Corps. The African Institute for Remittances (AIR) has been established as specialized technical office working exclusively on remittances with the main objectives to (i) promote regulatory reforms for improved market competition and use of innovative technologies for lower transfer costs (ii) improve accuracy of remittances data measurement and understanding of remittances, and (iii) ensure the development impact of remittances through inclusive finance for poverty reduction.  Among the achievements of AIR is the launch of Send Money Africa, a remittances price database aimed at providing remittance users with updated comparisons of prices quoted by remittance service providers. The database covers 54 corridors from 16 sending and 28 receiving countries.

Mr. Emile Leonard Ognimba, Assistant Secretary General - Political Affairs and Human Development of the ACP Group highlighted instruments developed by the ACP Group to involve the diaspora in the development agenda, mainly the intra-ACP Migration Facility, which promotes institutional and capacity building, knowledge creation and the participation of civil society including Diaspora organizations in addressing migration issues.                                                            

H.E. Teshome Toga (Ambassador of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia):  remarked that the African diaspora is made up of two (2) million Ethiopians. To leverage their contribution to national development, the government has established institutions at federal and regional level to support them in exploring opportunities at home, leading to the opening of some 21,000 foreign accounts.  Similar, some 4 billion dollars have been remitted so far this year.

Peter Moors (Chief of Cabinet of the Belgian Ministry for Development Cooperation):  Noted the strategic importance of the diaspora and the premium the Government of Belgium gives to them. The ideas, values and skills of the diaspora cannot be quantified, which is why the Government of Belgium is working with various organisations to maximize their output in promoting development in countries of origin.

H.E. Louis Michael (Minister of State, MEP, President of ACP-EU Parliamentary Group and Former EU Commissioner for Development Cooperation): referred to the diaspora as a strong asset that should play a crucial role in Africa’s development. While development assistance is only an “emergency measure”, the diaspora could provide the leverage needed for new development partnership. Noting the importance of secured remittances mechanism, he underscored the need for state structures to create an enabling environment, particularly with access to objective administration, in order to enhance the development process.

 

Panel Discussion

Two panel discussions formed the highlight of the workshop. They deliberated on the topics: “diaspora remittances and development – current status and limitations” and “How to channel diaspora resources towards sustainable development and the role of key actors”. 

The panels recognized the growing increase in remittances and its impact on development. Nonetheless, despite the positive influence of remittances, those in the diaspora are faced with daily obstacles ranging from high cost of remittance transaction to socio-cultural hindrances, inability to undertake large scale development activities and technical challenges of innovative vehicles coupled with securitized banking and financial systems. The panellists also noted that most mainstream institutional support for diaspora in developed countries suffers from a fundamental “know your diaspora” deficit. Majority in the diaspora continue to be left behind by approaches to planning and financing that put incredible emphasis on method’s that are not working, but nonetheless dominate policies and portfolios of development institutions. Hence the need for coordinated diaspora activities for policy coherence as well as collective and systematic engagement of host countries.

Using case studies from Ethiopia, Mali and Rwanda and individual work within the diaspora community, the workshop made a number of recommendations to AU Member States, AIR, EU, financial institutions and the diaspora community, all emphasizing the need for key decision-makers to create the environment appropriate to leveraging remittances for social and economic development of Africa.

 

AU Member States should:

-          Design appropriate regulatory frameworks and policies aimed at facilitating the flow of remittances more reliably and at the lowest cost, ensuring that the time spent between sending and receipt of remittances is minimized. 

-          Promote market liberalization by abolishing exclusive partnerships between national postal & banking systems and money transfer companies should be abolished.

-          Promote access to financial services, online platforms and mobile transfers as improvements in these infrastructures can lead to more cost-effective remittance transfers.

-          Build diaspora trust towards their home governments by promoting good governance (more transparency, accountability and less corruption).

-          Promote dual citizenship. Currently only 20 African countries allow dual citizenship.

-          Issue diaspora bonds and link them to development projects while supporting all relevant diaspora initiatives for development.

-          Review tax regulations to better ease small remittance transactions.

 

African Union and African Institute for Remittances should:

-          Provide technical assistance to government institutions on establishing and operating the necessary regulatory frameworks.

-           Provide necessary training and building capacities of government institutions.

-          Further strengthen cooperation with diaspora organizations from worldwide and encourage the establishment of umbrella organizations such ADNE in order to facilitate Diaspora contribution to the 2063 Agenda.

-          Set up a knowledge centre to track the effectiveness of diaspora remittances (currently, less than 30 per cent of the remittances are utilised effectively for development).

-          Initiate and support further research, including data collection, to fully understand the potential of remittances, including their direct, indirect, spill-over, multiplier and multidimensional effects on the livelihoods of the recipients, communities and countries.

-          Disseminate data and research findings on good practices through annual reports, conferences and workshops for stakeholders as well as meetings with the key policy makers.

 

European Union and international (development) organizations:

-          Celebration of a European Day of Family Remittances with the aim of bringing visibility to the efforts of diaspora organisations.

-           Include the diaspora in debates that impact on the lives of Africans.

-          Promote and customize best practices from other regions (Asia, Latin America) to Africa.

-          EU chamber of commerce to provide assistance to private sector from EU-based African diaspora.

-          Support professional umbrella organisations of diaspora associations, such as ADNE, to enable a coordinated and integrated action in the relationship between diaspora and policy makers.

-          Promote mechanisms to reinforce the efficiency of diaspora remittances.

Financial institutions should:

-          Find ways to make the transfer system safer, faster and cheaper. Some financial institutions now offer zero-cost remittance services to attract customers.

-          Promote the use of mobile and online banking technology; and use diaspora remittances as a tool to boosting financial inclusion.

-          Develop innovative remittances-related financial products, such as diaspora bonds or treasure bills, to channel diaspora investments towards the private and public sectors.

-          Facilitate knowledge interaction between the international financial institutions and the local financial institutions.

-          Abolish exclusive agreements between traditional money transfer companies and national institutions to encourage the emergence of new companies and innovative tools for sending money to Africa.

The diaspora (organizations) should:

-          Help and mentor African migrants to become better integrated in their host societies.

-          Engage pro-actively in initiatives, at both regional and national level, that mobilize resources to finance development projects in Africa (e.g. success story of EWALA start-up).

-          Coordinate efforts to ensure collective, systematic and efficient engagement, advocacy and action.

-          Establish formal advocacy and lobbying groups for the diaspora to undertake more targeted and effective actions.

-          Establish platforms to keep the diaspora informed about various ways they can channel their savings in investment opportunities in developing countries.

Speakers:

    1. H.E Louis Michel, Minister of State, MEP, President of ACP-EU JPA and Former Commissioner for Development Cooperation
    2. H.E Teshome Toga, Ambassador of Ethiopia to the EU and Belgium
    3. Ambassador Jozef Smets, Director for Africa, Ministry of Foreign Affairs- Belgium;
    4. H.E Olivier Nduhungirehe, Ambassador of Rwanda to the EU and Belgium;
    5. Mr. Peter Moors, Chief of Cabinet of the Belgian Ministry for Development Cooperation
    6. Mr. Mohamed Igueh OFLEH, Representative of the African Union
    7. Ambassador Emile Leonard Ognimba, Assistant Secretary General - Political Affairs and Human Development of the ACP Group
    8. H.E CISSE Sékou dit Gaoussou, Ambassador of Mali to EU and Belgium
    9. Mrs. Marie Chantal Uwitonze, President of the African Diaspora Network in Europe

10. Mr. Eugénio Ambrosi, Regional Director- IOM

11. Mrs. Shada Islam, Director of Policy at Friends of Europe

12.  Dr. Chinedu Madichie, President of NIDOE-Belgium and Luxembourg and ADNE Board Member

13. Mr. Kag Sanoussi, Spokesperson for the National Movement for Equality and Diversity -France & Founder of the International Institute for Conflict Management;

14. Mr. Mauro Martini, Migration, Remittances and Development Officer at the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD);

15. Mrs. Uzo Madu, producer & Presenter What is in for Africa

16. Dr. Samson Y. Hadush, ADNE Senior Expert

17. Mr. Stefano Signore, Head of Unit Migration, Employment, Inequalities, DG DEVCO

18. Mr. Stéphane Ugeux, Creator and Co-founder of EWALA, International money transfer app

19. Mr. Rama Lionel Ngenzebuke, ADNE Senior Expert-Development

20. Mr. Philip Bob Jusu,Socio-Economist at Permanent Mission of the AU in Brussels

21. Mr. Mamadou Alpha Diallo, ADNE Senior Expert

PARTICIPANTS

  1. H.E Amadou Diop, Ambassador of Senegal to the EU and Belgium
  2. Mrs. Rosine Nebie Guissou, Embassy of Burkina Faso
  3. Mr. Paul Benoit Sarr, Embassy of Senegal
  4. Mr. Cheick Oumar Coulibaly, Embassy of Mali
  5. Mr. Vedome Afokpa Kodjovi, Embassy of Togo
  6. Mr. Eric Willemaers, Adviser, Belgian Ministry of Development Cooperation
  7. Mr. Tom Neijens, Adviser, Belgian Ministry of Development Cooperation
  8. Mrs. Stine Hyldekjaer, European Commission, DEVCO
  9. Mr. Henri Desiré N’Zouzi, ADNE Vice President of the Board
  10. Mrs. Doreen Walsweer-Sore, Expert, ACP Group and ADNE Board Member
  11. Mr. Christian            Ofili, ADNE Board Member
  12. Mrs. Christella Musaninyange, ADNE Member of the Committee of Expert
  13. Mrs. Stella Nyanchama Okemwa, ADNE Member
  14. Mrs. Masala Boly, ADNE Member of the Committee of Expert
  15. Mrs. Tessa    Mukaruginiza Bwandinga, ADNE Member
  16. Mrs. Elueze  Ifeyinwa, ADNE Member
  17. Mrs. Kareen Uwusu, ADNE Member
  18. Mr. Michaêl Adekeye, ADNE Member
  19. Mr. Samuel   Gerson Andrisse, ADNE Member
  20. Mr. Adel Ramdani, ADNE Intern
  21. Mr. Roger Kabore
  22. Mr. Hellem  Bodaya
  23. Mr. Joseph  Kwame Sarfo-Adu
  24. Mrs. Akissi Edith  Amani
  25. Mr. Thomas De Beule
  26. Mr. Luca Roscini
  27. Madam Christine Haguma-Wa-Nkera
  28. Madam Maureen Duru
  29. Mr. Ibrahima Cissokho
  30. Mr. Gorga Roland
  31. Mrs. Khadijat  Abdulkadir
  32. Mrs. Danayi Edith Musamirapamwe
  33. Mr. Messa Hugor
  34. Mr. Mabiala  Mbeka
  35. Mrs. Mariam  Yamah
  36. Mrs. Eugenie  Kapinga Mutombo
  37. Mr. John   Madzela
  38. Mrs. Rita  Ameya Ne Nekekeni
  39. Mrs. Dorence Monkam
  40. Mrs. Bélinda Gérard Amédée
  41. Madam Marie-Dominique  Simbizi
  42. Madam Gloria Kingeri
  43. Mrs. Justine Ouedraogo Nikiema
  44. Mrs. Marcelle             Kom
  45. Mrs. Coryse Lehembre
  46. Mrs. Mikidadi Athumani Chachalika
  47. Mr. Mulange Ramadhani Mhoma
  48. Mr. Maximillian Mirihangu Sailen
  49. Mr. Djomo Poka Diderot
  50. Mrs. Sefana Zoufir
  51. Mrs. Djamila Taimount
  52. Madam Chantal  Kagoyire
  53. Mrs. Julie  Tassou
  54. Mr. Sinouhe Ferreira Monteiro Nunes
  55. Mr. Douhoré Joachim           Gibri
  56. Mrs. Eva Ba
  57. Mr. Jules  Dabo
  58. Mr. Sanoussi  A. Rahimy
  59. Mrs. Sam Maryse L.
  60. Mrs. Lisa Mutoni
  61. Mr. Casimir  Nsabimana
  62. Mr. Hugo Cereja
  63. Mr. Jean-Claude  Habumuremyi
  64. Mrs. Sikavi Gabiam Ayélé
  65. Mr. Hilary Ann  Barry
  66. Mrs. Koko  Evina Daniele
  67. Mrs. Marie-Charlotte  Tatepo Ngonde
  68. Mr. Désiré Onyedika Nwaobasi
  69. Mrs. Louise Elisabeth Sarah Valon Ledjou
  70. Mrs. Konstantina  Mistri
  71. Mr. Ralf Lanson Touomi Fenjep
  72. Mrs. Penda Achille Gaêtan Moukoko
  73. Mr. David Cereja
  74. Mr. André Nabil Ouedraogo
  75. Mrs. Nadine Dominicus Van Den Bussche
  76. Mr. Flor Didden
  77. Mr. David Lwamba Muzyunda
  78. Mr. Norbert Clément  Nsabimana
  79. Mrs. Alexandra Kageruka
  80. Mrs. Harrison Eniola
  81. Mrs. Lamberta Uwurukundo
  82. Mr. Sidiki Kosiah
  83. Mr. Mabu Masiala Bode
  84. Mr. Aminata Wanga
  85. Mrs. Pulchérie Chantal Eboko Nzoa
  86. Mr. Franck Bonda
  87. Mrs. Alexia Buzieux
  88. Mrs. Laila Higazi
  89. Mr. Amory Lumumba
  90. Madam Engleberthe Nyarushatsi
  91. Mr. Johann Domas-Conzemius
  92. Mr. Camilo Graça
  93. Mrs. Dulce Fernandes
  94. Mr. Yaw Bimpong
  95. Mr. Adam Abdul-Rahama
  96. Mr. Bankotine  Batengue
  97. Mr. Zelelew Tafesse 
  98. Mr. Emmanuel  Lomoro Lowilla
  99. Mrs.  Nicky  Nyakueth
  100. Mr. Souleymane Issakou
  101. Mrs. Annabelle  Roig
  102. Mrs. Kikunga Matoma Roxane Van Herbruggen