IOM spearheading $5.2 million diaspora investment project in Africa


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The International Organization for Migration (IOM), The African Development Bank, and the African Union Commission (AUC) have started implementing a $5.2 million project to strengthen investment, human capital, and philanthropic engagement from the diaspora in eight African countries.

This follows the signing of a protocol agreement in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in December 2023 to support the ‘’Streamlining Diaspora Engagement to Catalyze Private Investments and Entrepreneurship for Enhanced Resilience’’ (SDE4R) project. The target countries are The Gambia, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan, Togo and Zimbabwe.

The project will assist the recipient countries to identify the best methods for effectively mobilizing the human and financial capital of the diaspora, either to support socioeconomic development by reviving the domestic private sector, or recovery from political or humanitarian crisis by leveraging the expertise and networks of Diaspora groups.

Mr. Lamin Drammeh, African Development Bank Deputy Acting Division Manager, Financial Intermediation and Inclusion Division said the design of the project benefited from a very close and fruitful collaboration between the Bank, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the African Union Commission (AUC) as well as other domestic specialized stakeholders from the beneficiary countries.

He added: “This multi-country intervention will contribute towards strengthening private sector development, which will foster economic growth as well as socioeconomic resilience in the beneficiary countries while enhancing business development by leveraging diaspora-oriented financing opportunities and tools and entrepreneurship initiatives.”

The project is further expected to contribute to reinforcing the socioeconomic resilience of vulnerable populations, particularly women, youth, rural dwellers, and forcibly displaced populations, through diaspora-related humanitarian, educational, health, and other resilience-building support and temporary return of skilled and qualified diaspora members.

Ms. Angela Naa Afoley, Head of Division of the African Union Commission’s Citizens and Diaspora Organization Directorate, underscored the timeliness of the agreement saying it allows them to embark on a journey that promises to bridge the gap between the diaspora and local economies, leveraging the expertise and capital of both, to catalyze transformative change. She added that by streamlining processes, reducing barriers, and providing strategic support, the SDE4R project will unlock new investment opportunities, spur entrepreneurial ventures, and ultimately enhance the resilience of communities, nations, and the continent.

Ms. Mariama Cisse Mohamed, Director of the IOM Special Liaison Office in Addis Ababa said the project aligned with her organisation’s mandate to promote socio-economic development through migration while providing humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, including refugees and internally displaced populations. “As such, IOM will leverage its achievements, tools, methodologies, and existing partnerships with various entities, including the African Union Commission and the African Development Bank, to catalyze the diaspora’s contribution to private sector development and humanitarian action in the target countries.”

In addition to governments of the eight target countries, the project is expected to have 10,000 direct beneficiaries and 40,000 indirect beneficiaries in communities affected by conflict, climate change, and other humanitarian and environmental disasters.

The Bank approved the SDE4R project on 4 July 2023, with funding from its Transition Support Facility (TSF). The International Organization for Migration will implement the project over three years with strategic oversight, guidance, and advisory from the African Union Commission. This is a concrete example of a Humanitarian-Development-Peace (HDP) Nexus partnership focused on the implementation of strategic frameworks and shared priorities.

An estimated 160 million Africans are in the diaspora; the nearly $96 billion they remitted to the continent in 2021 far exceeded the $35 billion in official development assistance that flowed into Africa in the same year.