Diaspora crucial to Africa’s development

Each year, bright, optimistic Africans leave home to earn an education or seek a better economic life abroad for themselves and their families. With fewer opportunities in their home country, many never return home.

Each year, bright, optimistic Africans leave home to earn an education or seek a better economic life abroad for themselves and their families. With fewer opportunities in their home country, many never return home.

The African Diaspora is broadly defined by the African Union Commission as “peoples of African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union”.

Globally, Africans in the diaspora are spread out across the continents. In North America, there are 39 million from the African Diaspora; 113 million in Latin America; 13.6 million in the Caribbean; and 3.5 million in Europe, according to the World Bank estimates.

The African Diaspora is not a monolithic group - some were born and reared outside of their home country; many migrated to Europe, the US and other parts of the world at a young age, while others arrived to attend college.

No matter how they arrived in their adopted country, diasporans bring a distinct perspective to the discourse on Africa because they have experienced both worlds and can serve as a bridge in fostering greater understanding between the continent and their adopted country, and have the much-needed skills the Africa requires.


There is high demand for talent in Africa, yet the wide skills gap is a sobering reality. A McKinsey Global Institute Report estimates that 122 million people will be added to Africa’s labour force between 2010 and 2020, creating a burgeoning labour force of more than 500 million across the continent.

Skilled professionals from the African Diaspora are recognising the tremendous opportunities that exist in Africa and are repatriating home in greater numbers to fill top positions at multinational corporations and organisations on the continent. They are also investing in Africa’s emerging markets and launching African-led businesses and enterprises to create well-needed jobs and spur economic growth.

Harnessing the talents and expertise of the African Diaspora can help to bolster Africa’s workforce development.

Mobilising the full participation of Africans in the diaspora is a win-win for Africa, and can foster stronger connections between continents to accelerate Africa’s social and economic development.

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