Scholars Urge Gov’t to Effectively Harness the Ongoing Spur of Diasporas

Addis Ababa January 06/2019  Scholars urged the government to harness the ongoing spur of Ethiopians in Diaspora to even greater efforts promoting their engagement in various development agendas of the country.

In response to the unprecedented echoed from Diaspora Communities, it is recalled that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed initiated the Diaspora Trust Fund to let the Diaspora contribute at least a dollar per day to improve the livelihood of needy citizens.

More than two months after its establishment, the Premier was discontented because of the scanty fund which was not up to his expectations.

However, following his renewed call that “Aspiration which is not backed by action is not better than daydream”, the contribution of the Diaspora rose from 800,000 to 1.6 Million USD within two weeks.

The scholars told ENA that the Diaspora Trust Fund, which was recently initiated by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, is a turning point to further strengthen the contribution of Diaspora to the national development. 

Dr. Tadele Ferede, who’s an economist at Addis Ababa University, posited that the recently initiated Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund is a turning point to make visible the fresh impetus of the Diaspora beyond money contribution.

“If the role of the Diaspora is confined to 1 USD, it may not be possible to bring meaningful change,” he pointed out.

In this regard, it is necessary to work vigorously to lure back the knowledge and skills of the Diaspora to their homeland, Doctor Tadele stressed, and adding “That brings sustainable development in the country.”

In light of this, he noted that the government should first iron out the different skills and knowledge acquired by the Diasporas to capitalize their resource at the right place.

Regarding the mobilization of Diaspora, Tadele said building trustworthy and non-partisan institution is important to harness the resource of the Diasporas that are now keen to engage in the affairs of their homeland.

 “The contribution of the Diaspora will not be slide back, but even further strengthen if the trustworthy institutions exist,” he said.

A renowned Economics Professor at Harvard University, Getachew Begashaw, said Diasporas’ contribution to the country should not be limited solely on financial funds.

Saying that Ethiopian in Diasporas have diverse skills and knowledge, he stressed that it is important to transfer these to the national development endeavors.

“We can contribute on research, training, equipments and teachers exchange in collaboration with our academic institutions there,” he said.

Doctor Abebaw Minaye, Social Psychologist at Addis Ababa University, said on his part a paradigm shift has been observed in the attitude of the Diaspora to engage in the national development agendas of Ethiopia since the inception of the ongoing reform.

The Diasporas that once were lobbying international communities to cut financial aid for the country, they are now utterly engaged in promoting the national development agendas of the nation, he pointed out. 

Currently, the Diasporas are ready to work with the government as they develop trust on the new leadership of the country, he said.

According to Abebaw, Trust Fund “Would serve a as a litmus paper to check whether the Diaspora’s commitment is beyond verbal support.”

Underscoring the utmost importance of the ongoing drive of Diaspora to play their role in the country, he urged the government to properly utilize the opportunity at hand.

“Investing the collected money on the targeted projects early and uninterruptedly mobilizing the Diasporas are an uppermost important step to ensure the sustainability of Diaspora’s engagement,” he stated. 

Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund, which was officially launched on October 22, 2018, is a non-profit organization established to engage Ethiopian in Diaspora to improve the life of people through raising funds on social and economic projects.