Time for Ethiopia to Benefit from Diaspora

Addis Ababa August 08/2018 It is high time for Ethiopia, which has a high brain-drain, to engage its Diaspora in development endeavors in order to benefit from them, scholars said.

For a country that has seen its most talented brains leave for better opportunities in Europe and the U.S., a return of diasporas is important to sustain the reform and realize development.

According to the scholars who ENA has talked to the country need to maintain the momentum to sustain the initiation of the Diaspora to be part of the development of the country.

By mobilizing the Diaspora, Ethiopia would be able to accelerate the ongoing reform, Lemessa Baisa, senior expert at Civil Service University told ENA.

“The government was against and blames Ethiopian Diaspora for every conflict in the country in the past. But now it seems that Ethiopian Diaspora will be committed and will be able to invest in their country of origin in all possible ways. However, nowadays Ethiopian Diaspora are committed to support their country of  origin in productive ways and showing interest to send more money back home using formal channel which will help the government to solve the foreign currency shortage,” Lemessa said.

The work of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to the U.S. has helped to bridge the gap between the Diaspora and the government of Ethiopia.

“I have never seen such a positive interaction between Ethiopian government and Ethiopians residing abroad. So that was really a very creative and productive achievement of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. So I lacked words to express how happy I was when I saw how they showing love and respect for him and his respect for them,” Lemessa elaborated more.

The Diaspora could contribute share in the promotion of strong work ethics, transfer of knowledge and technology, and more foreign direct investment, he added.

As these Diasporas live in countries with strong democratic culture, it would add to Ethiopia’s efforts in the democratization process, if it can manage to properly engage them, the expert added.

“I believe that this people [the Diaspora] will bring a good culture of human right treatment, democracy and good governance which as a result there could be a better possibility for free, fair and transparency of election through which the power could be peacefully transferred from one part to another part as Ethiopian Diaspora are living in USA where election is believe to be more free, fair and democratic in the world.  Thus these things I see Ethiopia could benefit politically if its Diaspora start positive interact with the government of Ethiopia and its society,” Lemessa added.

In addition to the discussion with the Ethiopian Diasporas, the Premier’s discussion with the exiled politicians in the U.S. will help the country’s efforts in building democracy, he said.

“All discussions of the leadership of Ginbot 7, various political parties and activists Jawar Mohammed and Tamagn Beyene with Prime Minister Abiy would help Ethiopian government to move more forward in terms of widening Ethiopian political space in a democratic manner,” he pointed out.

The trust being built between the Ethiopian government and the Diasporas will have a positive impact towards building democracy and realizing development in the country, said Kassa Teshager, Assistant Professor at Civil Service University.

The Assistance professor emphasized the need to further develop the trust so as to maintain the enthusiasm among the Diaspora and enhance their engagement in socio-economic and political areas.

“The political culture in the country is not well developed and it is not that much good, but when they come and get chance to involve in the political activities in the country, they will add a value to the political system of the country which will be taken as positive contribution, even they will influence the government to encourage better participation and better engagement this will positively impact the county‘s political system,” he said.

Noting that the expectation from the Diaspora could be high, Kassa emphasized the need for the government to work hard in order to improve capabilities of institutions.

“So we need to develop the capacity of institutions and we need also to establish good and competent civil services so that they could get services through the institutions we have and they will continue serving their people in a productive manner,” he said.

Prime Minister Abiy’s visit to the U.S., the first-ever visit by an Ethiopian leader aimed at meeting the Diaspora, has helped to change the negative attitude among most of the Ethiopian Diaspora against government.

It is important for the Horn African country to seize this opportunity and mobilize the diasporas towards the development of the country.