By Janet Yao, Executive Assistant, TechSoup Global
European Foundation Week Session: Migration and development: Can Diaspora contribute to effective development of the country of origin? – Organised by Fondazioni4Africa, 31st May 2010
Although this session was slated to be a debate on the “innovative and controversial issue” of migration and development, I felt that the actual question debated was how can diaspora contribute to effective development for the country of orgin. The panelists all seem to agree that overall there are far more benefits. The biggest issue to address is the “brain drain” phenomenon and how to curve it. But even if you have many migrants living abroad, the simple act of awareness can impact the development of social, economic, political and environmental conditions. If orgin countries encourage the sharing of cultures, promote the orgin country as a tourist destinations, promote local produce/products, or even encourage the first world universities to focus on the development of orgin countries rather than just the history, the African Diaspora can be a veritable partner for development.
Although technology was only slightly mentioned during this session, it seems to me that technology is very much relevant to facilitate effective development through diaspora. Even in just the past 5 years, we have become much more aware of issues surrounding orgin countries through media outlets, social networking tools, blogs, viral videos, etc. Defining how to apply that technology and the practicality may be tricky, but it should be interesting to see what emerges in the next several years to meet that need.