Experts seek diaspora engagement in investment, development
This was the thrust at a dialogue organised recently by the UK Department for International Development (DFID’s), Policy Development Facility Phase Two, in collaboration with Dalberg with the theme, “Nigeria Diaspora Study: Opportunities for increasing the development impact of Nigeria’s Diaspora.”
Nigeria’s Diaspora, estimated at about 15 million people worldwide, play a crucial role in driving growth and progress in the country for which the government is currently drafting a National Policy on Diaspora Matters.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, represented by the Deputy Head, Industry, trade and Investment, Nigeria High Commission, London, Mrs. Folake Abdulrazaq, said the joint action clearly demonstrates the need to create an enabling environment that will catalyse the engagement of Nigerians in Diaspora in the investment market.
He said: “For decades, Diaspora remittances were largely unnoticed features of the global economy, they featured more as a cultural practice were people send money to their relatives in Nigeria.
“It is pertinent to note that Nigeria is the largest recipient of remittances in sub-Sahara Africa, and this could be as a result of our population size and generosity. Nigerians in Diaspora have a large stake in our economic growth; this could be supported by the figures provided by the CBN and World Bank, and explains why in recent times the Nigerian government policies are being directed at increasingly engaging the Nigerian in Diaspora.”
He noted that Diaspora entrepreneurship and investments are often hailed as drivers of economic development, and positive change in the world and Nigeria is no exception.
“To us in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we are looking into developing techniques and models that will enhance the positive impact of remittances on the development in Nigeria.”
Also speaking, the Director, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), Adesina Emmanuel, said: “we are aware that most Diasporas do not know about available investment opportunities, and so we created a platform where they can access these information, and then an enabling environment for Diaspora to invest and do business. It is important to encourage them to come home because many countries have relied on their remittances to develop.
“Part of what we do for Diasporas is to provide an online guide for them, which they can access from anywhere. Another is the compendium of incentives, which gives information of what is available in each sector, and then we have the one-stop investment centre, which is a mechanism to bottleneck the investment process.”
The Founder, Diasfunds, Obinali Egele, noted that the benefit of coming together is first of all to understand what the individual challenges are, and to think of ways of over coming them. Some of the things that are clear is there isn’t enough information going out to the Diaspora especially from what opportunities are available that they can benefit hence.
Egele added that the need to understand the fears of others will help in designing programmes, saying: “for example, we are interested in financial crowd funding specifically equity or debt, however we still do not know where we should be operating as SEC is still looking at it. Hopefully, when we get to communicate with SEC, they will be able to fashion out programmes that suit those in diasporas.