Inaugural Malawi Diaspora Conference 2018 ends full of hope, with the really work yet to begin

Diaspora Coference
Malawi Diaspora Conference 20198in Washington DC

The inaugural Malawi Diaspora Conference which was held on September 29, 2018 came to an end with participants full of hope. However talking and enumerating Goals will not sustain its growth and positive contributions it is supposed to make to the Motherland. According to those who attended, it was a daylong conference where issues importance to the Diaspora in the USA were discussed.

The event was organized by the Malawi embassy in conjunction with Malawi Diaspora associations. Malawi Association in Washington (MAWA) played a key role in the organizing, promoting and participating in the conference:   While the Malawi Embassy in DC and Ambassador Sawerengera should be commended for its role and the leadership role it took, for the Malawi diaspora movement to sustain itself long term, this effort cannot be seen to be led by Government. Indeed government can play a supporting role. The role of government in this effort should be calibrated to outlive the current administration and future administrations as well.

Under the theme, “Building Bridges for Growth and Development” the conference touched on a variety of topics as outlined in the conference program.  The speakers and panelists included a diverse cross-sections of Malawians. Notably, it included by HE Emmanuel Fabiano, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, who delivered the keynote address and Dr. Perks Ligoya, the Malawian Ambassador to the United Nations.

 

Fabiano
Diaspora Conference: Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Emmanuel Fabiano

Dr. Fabiano encouraged the Diaspora to band together to help develop Malawi. He noted that the Reserve Bank’s current estimates of Diaspora remittances through the formal sector were estimated to be $27.7 million USD in 2017 and year-to-date it is 54 million USD. The amount is projected to reach 200 million USD by the end of 2018.

The amounts touted by Fabiano are despite lack of programs by Government and Malawi companies coming up with really plans and programs specifically designed to encourage Diaspora participation in the Malawi economy. Due to family ties Diaspora will always invest in the motherland.

What is needed is an immense effort and Specific actions include identifying goals, mapping diaspora location and skills, fostering a relationship of trust with the diaspora, maintaining sophisticated means of communication with the diaspora, and ultimately encouraging diaspora contributions to national development. To date none of this has taken place and I did not hear from Fabiano if there are plans to do so. Instead we hope by talking things will happen on their own. The Economic diaspora contributions should  be seen in Billions and not Millions.

As to the Malawi Diaspora, many diaspora networks struggle to gain recognition as development actors or to secure the funding needed to sustain their projects. The Driving Goal for us to succeed long term is to find Funding. As a group we need find ways to raise funding from within and find funding networks this is where partnering with Government can help. We also need to find sponsorships and Partnerships with companies in Malawi that will greatly benefit from Diaspora investments and contribution.

Time for speeches is over. The really work has to start now. We can’t wait for another gathering next year.

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