Although the African Diaspora may be millions of miles from their home continent, they usually never forget their familial and ancestral roots. This is partly the reason why most Africans in the Diaspora choose to invest in the home countries instead of their host countries. 140 million Africans live abroad with most of them being classified as middle-class. A report by Africa Development Bank (AfDB) in 2016 found out that Africa received a whooping $60 billion dollars from its Diasporas. This has contributed enormously to the economic development in the continent and the uplifting of living conditions of close relatives of Africans immigrants who live and work in the United States and other parts of the world. This economic value of African immigrants today exceeds remittances by aid agencies like USAID, thus greatly effecting and affecting the positive outlook and the economic turnaround in the continent today.
Therefore, an immigrant stands to contribute more to development in their home countries than their own governments and current inhabitants in Africa. Their investment is bound to accrue more profits in Africa than in their host countries due to less competition and a growing consumer economy in most African countries. It is no wonder that American companies like McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and Domino’s Pizza are divesting their businesses to African cities. This is due to the rise of economies in Africa and a wave of new consumers in most African capital cities Like Nairobi and Johannesburg.
The following is a list of DIASPORA Africans investing in the continent and the benefits they are bringing to their home countries and Africa as a whole. It incorporates both those Africans that have direct financial contribution and those that have invested socially in Africa with an aim to increase the continent’s economic development.
Having seen the immense contribution of the African Diaspora to development in their own countries, Mr. Chikezie decided to co-found the African Foundation for Development (AFFORD) in 1994, while living in London. The foundation’s main objective is to enhance and improve the contribution of Africa’s Diasporas to the continent’s development. Subsequently, he founded a sister organization called AFFORD-Sierra Leone in 2008 than aimed to funnel investments from African diaspora into Sierra Leone. He then returned to Sierra Leone after two and half decades abroad to consult for UP!- Africa Ltd which concentrates on diaspora for development and encourages private sector development in the country. He is passionate about job creation to the youth in his country by leveraging African diaspora with other resources in the continent.
Mr. Muhire is the founder and CEO of MERGIMS, a mobile payment application that allows Rwandese migrants in the diaspora to pay airtime, bills and tuition fees for their dependants back home. He aims to increase the reach to other East African countries by the end of 2019. Having studied and worked in Ottawa, Mr. Muhire faced many challenges when sending money to Rwanda through traditional bank money transfers. His frustrations and expensive fees stipulated by money transfer companies compelled him to create the MERGIMS app and he subsequently returned to Rwanda four years ago to focus on developing his business idea. His efforts did not go unnoticed and he was appointed commissioner of the Rwanda National Unity and Reconciliation Commission. Today, he heads the Rwanda Cooperation Initiative where he aids the government in organizing how the country exchanges ideas and experiences with other countries in the continent.
Burundian by birth, Kakunze works in Norway as an actuary at Risk Management-KLP. He is a Pangea Diaspora investor and he has chosen to invest in start-up initiatives in Kenya through Pangea Accelerator programmes. The programmes target investors interested in investing in African start-ups. Diaspora Africans join a network of other investor to co-invest in start-ups they deem profitable in the long-run. For Kakunze, he has mentored a few start-ups in Africa and learnt how to spot good investment opportunities. SaveKubwa is a start-up that Kakunze has invested in. It is an online broker of insurance that combines micro-insurance and micro-finance to reach the uninsured population in Kenya where there is little insurance penetration.
Other than individuals, companies have also realised the growing potential of African businesses. Shea Yeleen is a social enterprise dedicated to empowering women in West Africa and the United states through the production and sale of shea butter products abroad. Akili Dada is a non-profit organization that mentors young girls in leadership and identifies solutions to issues and areas of need in their communities build tangible skills and address those issues through start-up programmes. Akili Dada is partly funded by diaspora Kenyans and other non-profit organizations.
In conclusion, the African continent is a viable investment opportunity that migrant workers can seize and exploit many investment opportunities or exploit the many untapped resources in their countries of origin. The millions of remittances can be turned into investments that will benefit Foreign Direct Investment. This will make the families of African migrant workers back home more financially independent and eradicate poverty.