African Diaspora Program

 African Diaspora Program

What is understood by the phrase African Diaspora?

The African Union (AU) Commission defines the African Diaspora as “peoples of African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union.” The African Union considers the Diaspora to be the “sixth region” of Africa. The estimated number of African Diaspora by region is: North America, 39.16 million; Latin America, 112.65 million; Caribbean, 13.56 million; and Europe, 3.51 million.


How much does the African Diaspora send back in remittances to Africa annually?

Prior to the financial crisis of 2008-2009, documented remittance flows to Sub-Saharan Africa were about US$22 billion annually. In 2010, remittances to Sub-Saharan Africa were US$29 billion and the 2011 estimate was $31 billion. The 2012 remittances forecast was $31 billion, and are predicted to increase to $33 billion in 2013, while the forecast for 2014 is $36 billion and 2015 further increase to $39 billion (these figures are likely to change on April 19 when new numbers will be released).


What is the African Diaspora Program?

The World Bank’s Africa Region launched the African Diaspora Program (ADP) in September 2007.

The program focuses on diaspora policy formulation and implementation, financing and leveraging of remittances for development and human capital utilization, through diaspora professional networks and organizations, and hometown associations. The ADP has been able to mainstream the diaspora agenda in country policy and sector dialogue based on the Bank’s Africa Region’s Strategy emphasis on partnerships and knowledge. In this regard, the entire program has recently been mainstreamed into different Units of the Bank’s Africa region.


In the area of diaspora policy formulation and implementation, the program has provided Institutional Development Fund (IDF) grants to the African Union Commission (AUC), and the governments of Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Mali, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda.  The ADP is engaged at varying degrees in several countries including Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Congo Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Lesotho, Niger, Mozambique, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, and Zambia.

The IDF support to the AUC’s Global Diaspora Program is of direct relevance to the African Union (AU) Summit on the Diaspora which took place in May 2012 in South Africa. During the Summit, members of the African Union, the governments of the Caribbean, South and Latin America and representatives of the African Diaspora signed a formal declaration to collaborate politically, socially and economically.  The Declaration of the Global African Diaspora Summit did commit to the implementation of five “legacy” projects: developing of an African Diaspora Professional Skills Database, establishing an African Diaspora Volunteer Corps, creating an African Diaspora Development Marketplace, and creating an African Remittance Institute (AIR). The ADP has been supporting the African Union in the development of four of the five legacy projects, with the exception of AIR, which has moved forward under the Bank’s Financial and Private Sector Development Department in the Africa Region

The AU will hosted its first consultation on the legacy projects from March 25 to 27, 2013, at the World Bank offices in Washington, DC, on the development of a roadmap leading to operational status for the four AUC flagship projects, included as outcomes of the Global African Diaspora Summit. The AIR project presentation at the event was made separately and consisted of latest status of the institute in the AUC internal policies/procedures and information sharing about the project. The presentation also highlighted the core objective and thematic areas that AIR is planning to undertake once it is established around second quarter of 2013.

On remittances, as indicated above, the World Bank’s Africa Region Financial and Private Sector Development Department is facilitating the establishment of AIR in the AUC to be hosted at an AU member country, soon to be identified. Three very specific activities were undertaken at the inception of this project as follows:


  • Using social media, online consultations were conducted with development practitioners, remittance senders and recipients and the general public shared their views on the creation, structure and functions of the Institute.
  • A Best Practice Study was prepared to provide suggestions on the possible role, institutional framework, and activities of the AIR once it is established.
  • The AUC convened a Consultative and Experience Sharing Forum on Leveraging Remittances for Development in July 7-8, 2011 in Addis Ababa, with representation from 27 AU member states, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and other stakeholders.


The AIR provides technical assistance and other support to AU Member states on remittances. To date, the project has established pilots that can be scaled up at the continental level. Several pilot projects have already been implemented, including the establishment of the Send Money Africa remittance price database, four missions to assess the legal and regulatory frameworks and market structure for remittances in Tanzania, Malawi, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, and the training of postal operators in Kenya, Ethiopia, Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Gabon. A catalogue of studies and activities in remittances is being updated, as well as a report on the best practices of established remittance institutes around the world.


Why a three-country mission on AIR?

In January 2013, the Bank Mission on AIR visited Brussels, Tunis and Addis Ababa. In Brussels, the mission explored the possibility of an official launch of the Send Money Africa (SMA), and also hosting of a Diaspora event in Brussels with the European Union.


In Tunis, the Mission discussed with African Development Institute of the African Development Bank (AfDB), financial support from AfDB for AIR and the future work program of the institute.


The last AU Assembly was unable to reach a consensus regarding the location of AIR. The Mission also went to Addis to explain to the African Union Commission that a decision on AIR’s location would clarify the roadmap for development partners such as AfDB, EC, World Bank and others. The AIR would also work in line with the host country’s strategic direction, and that absence of a timely decision might erode development partners’ confidence in AUC. The AUC delegation agreed to have the issue returned to the Assembly agenda for discussion in May 2013, and that the AUC Deputy-Chairperson should intervene to promote a political solution prior to the May meeting.


What are other ADP programs?

The ADP co-sponsored, with the Regional Multidisciplinary Center of Excellence, Mauritius, a High-Level Forum (HLF) on Leveraging Remittances for Development which was held, in Mauritius in June 2012.  The HLF obtained feedback on initiatives, specifically the AIR, proposed African Diaspora Fund (ADIF), and virtual schemes for attracting skills, expertise and talent.


In the area of diaspora human capital resource deployment, the ADP with an Italian Government grant supported the Ethiopian Diaspora Professional Health Network which was working with the Ethiopian Government’s health program and the University of Addis Ababa. The Ethiopia Health Network  was very successful and ended in December 2012.  The ADP utilized bilateral grants from Belgium, Germany, France, and the Netherlands for the Development Marketplace for the African Diaspora in Europe (DMADE) project which closed on July 2011. The ADP is also deploying “seed funds” of the Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF) to support the development of community-driven development projects in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Nigeria, which would involve the participation of Diaspora Hometown Associations in the development activities of local communities


The ADP has held two open house events at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, one in 2007 and the second in February 2010.  A workshop on World Bank operational policies, including fiduciary requirements, was held in May 2008 for diaspora organizations, firms, and individual consultants to better equip them to partner with the Bank.


How many countries have received support from the African Diaspora Program?

The World Bank is engaged at varying levels with over 25 African countries through analytic and advisory activities (AAA) and grants.


Besides the World Bank, who are the other partners on the Diaspora Program?

The Partners working with the ADP include: African countries and their governments; the African Union Commission; the African Development Bank; the International Organization for Migration; the European Commission; the Governments of Italy, Belgium, Germany, France, Netherlands; and UNDP. ADP has working relationships with a number of diaspora-based civil society groups.

Contact: Beldina Auma, (202) 250-0943,

Updated March 2013

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