Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- Africa and its Diaspora have plans underway to meet next March in Brazil for an international symposium expected to launch the debate about the contribution of the African Diaspora to their continent of origin.
Participants at the Dakar symposium in 2004 insisted in their recommendations, on the necessity to support Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade's idea to consider the African Diaspora as the sixth region of the continent.
Jumping on the African Union bandwagon, the administration issued from the democratic shift of regime that resulted from the February/March 2000 election, noted that the word "Diaspora" was missing in the organisation's Constitutive Act.
To fill this gap, it has then suggested that the Diaspora be considered as an entity to supplement the five traditional regions, namely North African, West African, East African, Central Africa and Southern Africa.
No progress has been made so far on the issue, as the debates on the proposed sixth region have not been finalised, because the various parties involved have failing to find a consensus on the initiative.
The incorporation of the Diaspora as the 6th African region is fully supported by proactive like Abdoulaye Wade and his Nigerian and South African counterparts, Olusegun Obasanjo and Thabo Mbeki, respectively.
However, the AU organs are to be credited for having made notable progress on the tricky issue of the definition of the "Diaspora" concept in the specific context of the proposed African integration.
"The aim is to get out of a rather illogical situation created by the tendency to believe that the Diaspora comprises exclusively of America's and the West Indies' black communities," explained Cheikh Tidiane Gadio, Senegalese minister of foreign affairs told PANA here Monday.
"Therefore, we can consider that the problem has been solved," he said with delight, while stating that the people concerned also involve blacks in Peru and Colombia, Afro Cubans and Brazilian Africans as well as American Nigerians, Europeans from Senegal, Dutch people from Cameroon, Swedes from the Gambia, French citizens of Algerian origin, Spanish and Italian citizens from Morocco and Tunisia".
Consequently, belonging to the African Diaspora is an issue that "cannot be solely based on the racial criterion, but also on the African origin and one's feeling of hailing from that origin, both factors which naturally entail the will to be useful to the continent," Gadio underscored.
Admittedly, the involvement of the African Diaspora in the continent's development calls for the creation of conditions likely to arouse among the African expatriated expertise the desire to contribute to Africa's advancement.
All the more so, because the Diaspora include high level intellectuals who felt constrained to leave their homeland for obvious reasons, like the lack of employment, the unfair management of national resources or the instability generated by the violations of fundamental human rights.
For the Senegalese Foreign minister, conditions conducive to the return of highly trained African expatriates would be considered as met "when these expatriates will cease to be viewed as a danger or to be the subject of a moral harassment" in their own countries.
Gadio also affirmed that there is still hope, while indicating that the experience launched in several countries, like India, is still encouraging.
"Work goes on, the aim now is to apply the necessary strategies to attract the Diaspora," he insisted, while citing the TOKTEN (Transfer of Knowledge Through Expatriate Nationals) programs which constitute clear examples in terms of the Diaspora's contribution to Africa's development.
Launched in 1970 by the United Nations Programme for Development (UNDP), the TOKTEN programmes are credited for having offered the African expatriate expertise the opportunity to become aware of the country's realities, to appreciate them for their exemplarity and to have an idea of their possible contribution to the realisation of national development programmes under the form of fixed-term contracts or following a final return home.
Senegal, Mali, Rwanda and Burundi figure high on the list of African countries, which have wowed to implement the programme.
Other countries did not wait for the institutionalisation of the sixth African region to take the necessary measures for the reinforcement of partnerships and cooperation with the Diaspora.
In March 2005, during the conference organised in Kingston (Jamaica) by South Africa, with the collaboration of the Jamaican government and the African Union, various mechanisms were set up for the establishment of stronger economic and political relations between Africa and the Caribbean Diaspora.
Six years earlier, Benin's head of State, Mathieu Kérékou, had initiated an international conference of leaders for reconciliation and development which aimed at the creation of a "Gospel and roots" festival.
The setting-up of Benin's Agency for Reconciliation and Development (ABRD) responsible for managing the initiative allowed the development of various programmes for the "involvement of our brothers and sisters from the Diaspora" in the continent's development.
Besides, the creation in Bâton Rouge, Louisiana, of the Reconciliation and Development Corporation (RADCORP), a public NGO, by members of the Diaspora, augurs well for the adoption, by the African Diaspora, of the project relating to its participation in the continent's development.
Not wanting to be outdone, Senegalese President Wade "is planning in the few months to come, to make a tour in several communities of the Diaspora, especially in the Caribbean and Colombia," explained Gadio, certainly in order to contribute to the creation of the sixth African region.