By Temitope Ponle, Abuja.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) are to partner on supporting African medical doctors in the diaspora to connect back to Africa.
The President of the AfDB, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, made this known at the Global Community of Practice (G-COP) Policy Dialogue, hosted by the bank in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
The dialogue has “Development without Borders: Leveraging the African Diaspora for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development in Africa” as its theme.
Adesina said: “I am delighted to let you know that the AfDB and WHO will partner on what we call ‘Africa Connect’ initiative to strategically tap into Africa’s physicians in the diaspora to invest in quality health infrastructure in Africa, including for the establishment of first-rate medical facilities.
“This will be part of the bank’s plan to invest three billion dollars in quality health infrastructure for Africa.
“Africans in the diaspora are critical for Africa’s economic development.
“The value of remittances from the African diaspora doubled from 37 billion dollars in 2010 to 87 billion dollars in 2019, reaching 95.6 billion dollars by 2021.
“Yet official development assistance to Africa in 2021 is 35 billion dollars or 36 per cent of the remittances from the diaspora.”
The AfDB president said Egypt that and Nigeria were among the top-ten remittance recipients globally, with 31.5 billion dollars and 19.2 billion dollars respectively in 2021.
He said: “The African diaspora has become the largest financier of Africa! And it is not debt, it is 100 per cent gifts or grants, a new form of concessional financing that is the key for livelihood security for millions of Africans.”
Adesina, however, said that the African Union estimated that about 70,000 skilled professionals emigrated from Africa every year and doctors, nurses and scientists were among them.
“In 2015, it was estimated that the number of African trade medical students or graduates practicing in the United States alone reached 13,580,” he added.
Adesina further urged all African governments to prioritise the affairs of the diaspora by establishing ministries of diaspora.
He said that the establishment was to give priority policy attention to the specific needs of the diaspora, while expanding investment opportunities for them through special incentives.
“We must eliminate the Africa premium charged on remittances. We must tap the massive opportunities offered by diaspora bonds. That’s where our bonds are effective instruments to harness remittances for the development of Africa.”
He also called on African countries to securitise remittances to promote investments, especially for infrastructure development on the continent.
“Now because the flow of remittances to Africa is high, rising and stable, it offers huge opportunities to serve as collateral to secure financing for African economies.”
The AfDB president, however, said that the diaspora could also offer a lot more than remittances and investments.
“They have skills, knowledge, know-how, exposure to the world of business and investments, science, arts and technologies that can help boost the human capital for Africa’s development.”
He also said that Africans in diaspora should also be allowed to vote in the home countries.
“If they can send money that powers their home economies, surely, they should also help to decide the future of the economies in Africa,” he said.
The G-COP Policy Dialogue is expected to feature several panel discussions, involving leaders and representatives of African diaspora organisations.
Themes to be discussed include the securitisation of remittances, diaspora bonds, trade and investment promotion, research, innovation, knowledge and technology sharing as well as brain circulation.