Saturday, January 11, 2014

AU moves to promote diaspora investment

Participants of the Kenya Diaspora Conference at the Safari Park Hotel on December 19, 2013. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | FILE

Participants of the Kenya Diaspora Conference at the Safari Park Hotel on December 19, 2013. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | FILE  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By LILIAN OCHIENG
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Discussions on how to increase diaspora investments on the continent are expected to dominate the African Union summit in Addis Ababa in two weeks.

Speaking in Nairobi at a meeting of Kenya’s diaspora alliance, deputy chairperson of the African Union Commission, Erastus Mwencha, said the union has identified Africans abroad as its sixth region after the East, West, Central, North and South of Africa and one that has the potential to contribute significantly to the continent’s economy.

“We are keen on talks that will enable those is the diaspora to invest back home. It is the resolve of the AU to support all efforts that will enable Africans living abroad aggressively invest on the continent,” Mr Mwencha said at the January 8 meeting.

He said the union has prepared a policy that spells out measures to be taken to attract Africans living abroad to invest in Africa. The policy will be the centre of discussion at summit scheduled to open January 24.

FOCUS ON INVESTMENT

“Key areas of focus in the policy are remittances, investments, trade and innovations and insurance for diaspora enterprises,” Mr Mwencha said, adding that it was time the continent took advantage of its own people living in developed countries to drive the development in Africa.

“Remittances make up a significant chunk of Africa’s economy. It is therefore important for us to offer support to our own so that the economy can spring up.”

Africans in the diaspora currently remit more than Sh5.2 trillion to Africa every year.

Overseas Kenyans have expressed optimism about the union’s plan to feature talks on investments in its forthcoming meeting. (KERRE: It’s not prudent to neglect the diaspora)

“More than 27 Kenyan diaspora groups currently focusing on trade and investments have welcomed the move by the African Union,” said Shem Ochuodho, chair of Kenya’s diaspora association.

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