A pan-African think tank on Friday urged African countries to develop innovative ways to harness their large diaspora populations.
Blessing Mberu, head of urbanization and well-being with African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC), told Xinhua in Nairobi that the African continent has one of the most educated diaspora populations in the world.
“Unfortunately, they are not willing to return back to the continent to help in development efforts due to lack of opportunities for them,” Mberu said on the sidelines of a national conference on improving the health of urban informal workers in Kenya.
He said African universities have limited budgets for research, and as a result, Africans pursuing postgraduates courses prefer to study abroad.
According to the pan-African body, Africa produces only 1 percent of the global research output. In the past three years APHRC has provided research grants to over 230 post graduates students to pursue their studies in African universities.
Mberu said Africa’s impressive economic growth over the past decade has not created opportunities for all. “This is best illustrated by the economic migrants who are willing to risk their lives to flee to Europe by boat.”
He added that in the past, citizens abroad were considered enemies by their home countries. “However, the continent is now beginning to see their value due to the remittances they send to their relatives back home.”
Mberu said nations that experienced political turmoil such as Nigeria, Ghana and Ethiopia have the largest diaspora communities, adding that African governments should enact laws that allow dual citizenship.
“This will permit their citizens abroad to acquire citizenship in their adopted countries so that excel in a better position to assist their home nations,” he said.
The APHRC official also observed that by issuing diaspora bonds, African governments can turn brain drain into brain gain.
“The bond allows citizens abroad to invest in their home nations,” he said.