Press Releases of Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Source: US-West Africa Group Communication Team

Obama's Africa Trip

Press Release: Obama's Africa Trip

July 7, 2009

During President Obama's upcoming first official visit to sub-Saharan Africa (Ghana) on July 10-11, 2009, we would like him to reiterate to his Ghanaian and African counterparts the importance of putting in place significant mechanisms to partner with African immigrants (along-side African Americans and institutions) as source of elite human resources, entrepreneurship, ideas, innovations, and financing for the region to address old and new challenges.

Ideally, we would have liked to join in this historic journey to Ghana. However, we will be content if President Obama can convey our thoughts to our kin back in Africa. This is often the case, that a member of our African immigrant community in the U.S traveling to the region bears messages and parcels to families, friends, former colleagues, hometowns, old schools, etc., in Africa.

Many economies that transitioned from low to middle-income status recently have relied on contributions of their expatriate or Diaspora populations, in the form of investment capital and knowledge transfer, and partnership building involving sector institutions and businesses in which the Diaspora have critical mass of expertise and practical experience in the country of residence. In deed, Africa's own independence came about as a result of tapping into the knowledge and experiences of African migrants in the U.S. and Europe along side the historically African communities in America and the Caribbean.

Africa must double efforts to insure that the region can gainfully access some of its citizens who in the last generation or so have made America their home of residence but are still linked to the home of origin in Africa.

While African immigrants are among America's highly educated workers and the group's income levels are above the average for immigrant groups, we have also been responsible for the brain drain and weak institutions in Africa. The frequent reference by African Governments and regional institutions to brain drain testify that a high proportion of "Africa's best brains reside outside" the continent. Our money transfers from America into Africa is now a significant proportion of the GDP of many economies in the region. Through these remittances, we contribute significantly to local real estate development; strengthening of family businesses, much of which is informal but crucial such as rural agriculture sector; growth of small businesses, artisanal services, community and social infrastructure such as maintenance of schools and hospitals, etc.

What is important is that we find ways to engage Africans abroad systematically and gainfully in the region's human resource pools and helping to find solutions to local challenges; this requires an effective development policy.

Yes, we can translate our American-acquired quality education, work experience, professionalism, entrepreneurship, business management skills, income and investment potentials into "brain gain" and enterprise growth opportunities, and in opening new frontiers for Africa. This effort must be considered not less important than seeking international aid. Through such an effort, Africa can build enduring partnerships with elite institutions in America for the region's access to the people, the ideas, organizations and systems that can help find solutions to the challenges facing Africans.

Yes, African Governments, donor partners, and private sector actors can mainstream Diaspora professionals, entrepreneurs and social investors in their programs.

Yes, we can telecommute between America and Africa in mentoring graduate students during their dissertation phase; help diagnose patients; deliver consulting services; and render advisory services in agriculture, health, etc.

Yes, we can serve as innovative financiers for small-medium enterprise development and social investors for poverty reduction and extension of community infrastructure.

Yes, we can be a source of the big ideas and innovations that will enable the continent achieve its full potentials.

Yes, we can help American businesses take advantage of opportunities in Africa, and sustainably growing the local economy.

Thank you,

US-West Africa Group Communication Team