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African Diaspora uses social media to spur social development

28.11.2018
Initially, when people left their countries to settle abroad, several of them had little or no interest in the happenings of their home country. The things that linked them back home were the family and friends left behind who became their major points of concern. However, the dynamics has changed over the years, as Africans leaving in the diaspora are becoming agents of change. And one of the aspects which has facilitated their activities and provided a larger sphere for their voices to be heard is the rapid growth of social media.

Basically, Diaspora is a used to refer to persons who have settled outside of their home country. Statistics reveal that as at now nearly 800 million Africans on the continent are living in other parts of world. Brazil is host to about 55.9 million people of African descent, making it the country which has the largest African Diaspora population.

According to statistics from the World Bank there are 39 million people in North America from the African Diaspora; 113 million in Latin America; 13.6 million in the Caribbean; and 3.5 million in Europe.

Though settled out of the country, it is opined that they still have significant role to play in the growth and development on their various countries.

The first of such roles is somehow indirect with regards to the fact that, the actions they take towards the family members in terms of the financial transactions has a direct impact on the economy. Most governments are gradually acknowledging the role the diaspora plays and are now adopting policies which favours the active integration of the diaspora in the development plans and programs.

DIASPORA ONLINE PRESENCE DRIVES CONVERSATION ON DEVELOPMENT ISSUES

With the fast change in global systems and the growing spirit of reawakening, Africans in the diaspora are now seeking new avenues to participate and make vital contribution back in their countries.

They are now benefitting from some of the advantages the social media has to add their voices to the happenings of their countries due to the fact that the Social media has succeeded to connect and mobilize Africans who are monitoring developments in their home countries from abroad.

Some are effectively using social media to raise funding for projects on the continent. For instance, the organization, Africans in Diaspora raised $40,000 from 234 contributors to fund community development programs on the continent. The organization is equally generating micro-investments for small businesses through social enterprise, connecting Africans abroad to communities at home.

We have also heard of several online campaigns championed by the diaspora challenging governments and systems and holding them accountable.

DIASPORA’S INFLUENCE STILL LARGELY REMAIN ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Scholars have it that the full impact of Africa’s diaspora engaging in the continent’s development needs more time to mature fully.

Despite the high interactivity rate of the diaspora on the internet, it is however unfortunate that it has very less impact in their home countries. So much of the online engagements and discourse have not gone beyond the social media to an implementation phase.

An important aspect which restricts such impact is that the diaspora has no solid role in the continent’s governance hence cannot directly affect changes. At the moment a greater part of the involvement is still limited to commentaries and debates as well as exchange of ideas. However, the diaspora will need to go beyond sideline commentary on the social media if they want to effectively bring about impact in their countries.

However, some of those who are based in the Diaspora have been able to break the virtual wall around the social media to return back to their home countries to make valuable investments.

In order to challenge the present status quo and be more instrumental to their countries there is need for a coordinated diaspora engagement effort which will lead to greater impact.

AFRIC Editorial article.

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