Former Trade and Industry Minister, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah says the millions of Africans in the Diaspora are potential agents for the transformation of the African Continent.
Dr. Spio-Garbrah who was delivering a keynote speech at an international conference on the African Diaspora in Nairobi, Kenya said the pre-independence movement in Africa was largely propelled by Africans who had gone to study main’ly in Britain, France and the United States.
He cited the likes of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Jomo Kenyatta, Leopold Senghor, Houghbouet Boigny, Julius Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda, Kamuzu Banda and others who returned to their countries after acquiring knowledge and exposure overseas, and used that experience to liberate their countries from colonial rule.
According to Spio-Garbrah, the time has come for the current crop of Africans, who remain overseas and those returning from the Diaspora, who had this time obtained cutting-edge experience in foreign countries to also work collaboratively to liberate the African continent, but this time economically, financially and technologically.
He said whereas the pre-independence Africans in the Diaspora had to make do with blue collar work as train attendants, cleaners and washers and blue collar factory workers, the recent and current cadre of Diaspora returnees are blessed to work in cutting-edge environments.
“Today’s Diaspora returnee is likely to have worked on Wall Street, Silicon Valley, NASA, the financial districts of London or France, or in a manufacturing plant in China or India. Others are returning to Africa after being professors and lecturers in a wide range of fields.”
The former Ghanaian Ambassador to the United States told his audience that some African countries, like Ethiopia, Cape Verde and Egypt, along with some non-African countries, seem to be doing a better job than others of tracking down their citizens overseas.
Dr Spio-Garbrah was of the view that African countries could do much more through their governments, the private sector, academia and professionals by using information and communication technologies (ICTs) to establish networks of knowledge to assist the transformation agenda of most countries.
Dr. Spio-Grabrah lauded African countries, such as Cape Verde and Ethiopia, which had made very effective use of their Diasporean community to harness their remittances and technical knowledge in specific programmes that had helped to transform those countries.
Amongst the scores of speakers at the conference were the Speaker of the Kenyan Senate, the Director General for East Africa of the African Development Bank, representatives from the African Union, the East African Community and the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA).
Other speakers and delegates represented regulators of higher education, professors from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, as well as speakers from American Universities, and from UK, Australian, Indian, Pakistani, South African and Tanzanian institutions.