KIGALI - The Diaspora has much to offer and contribute to national development, an official revealed Thursday. In an exclusive interview with The New Times at his offices, Robert Masozera, Director General of the Diaspora Directorate at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation said that after carrying out substantial analysis efforts are being made to tap the potential of Rwandans in the diaspora.
“We carried out a deep analysis, considering the strengths and weaknesses and we discovered that the Diaspora has got much potential,” he said, explaining that the exercise to finalise a working Diaspora policy was still in progress as it required wide consultations.
“First, they have a great deal of skills and knowledge in areas beneficial to our country’s development,” he noted.
“We really have professionals, many of whom are willing to contribute to national development and we said, let’s tap into this.”
“Many are potential investors and many contribute quite substantially in terms of remittances,” Masozera underlined, adding that about USD 200 million is registered annually. He also underscored that that figure is not conclusive, implying that it could be bigger.
Apart from the vital remittances and real estate development, he also pointed out other aspects like the support expressed by the Diaspora when the Chief of State Protocol Rose Kabuye was arrested.
“They are helping in image building,” he said, adding that whenever the Rwanda Investment and Export Promotions Agency (Riepa) organised annual investment conferences, it was realised that the Diaspora played a big role in bringing in people.
Despite the substantial potential, however, Masozera says much remains to be done to fully make use of the vital community.
“We realised that they were not being fully exploited, and we asked ourselves why what is being done is not enough. We laboured to identify the weaknesses here and discovered that, for one, they lacked good information and we decided to put in more efforts,” he said.
“Secondly, they are divided, while back home we are on another level of cohesion. There is a lack of cohesion and this too is an area we are putting much emphasis into,” he added, also pointing to their “weak structures” as another weakness.
“Some have weak associations, associations only in name. We want to encourage them to build strong associations that point to national unity and that are inclusive,” Masozera said, emphasising the importance of “the three pillars” – in relation to unity and reconciliation, providing information targeting socio-economic development, and mobilising the Diaspora to contribute to the country’s development.
He pointed out that the Directorate has got Euros 200,000 funding from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to help in “quantity and qualitative data” gathering to help feed into the information gap.
The IOM is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration.
Masozera also revealed that ahead of the upcoming (December) national dialogue conference, a sideline Diaspora meeting is on the agenda to exhaust issues, including the future of the organisation and the guiding policy.