Lagos- Nigeria (PANA) -- The US Consul-General in Nigeria, Brian Browne, has charged the African Diaspora to develop institutional framework that will help in solving the continent's problems of poverty, conflict, food insecurity and underdevelopment.
"The challenge of the third phase is not to unite on an ad-hoc basis around a specific cause like in the past.
The challenge is to initiate institutional links in addressing the chronic problems that have affected either or both of them (Africa and the Diaspora)," the envoy said in Lagos Wednesday at a lecture to mark February as Black History Month in his country.
The month is organised to celebrate the achievements of African-Americans who were taken to U.
during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade 500 years ago.
Speaking on the topic, "The Diaspora: What Next?" Browne said rather than embarking on a historical pilgrimage about the past, the challenge now should be on how to make the future better for the next generations.
It is estimated that by 2020, the African-American population will reach 45 million in the United States.
"The third phase of the Diaspora should be heralded by the push for economic and political progress through institutional cooperation.
It means defining our common vision and working out strategies to achieve the goal," the envoy added.
The envoy said Black Americans must seek to work with Africa in rebuilding Liberia and resolving conflicts in other trouble spots in the continent.
"Africa must itself develop a collective strategies for engaging the Diaspora.
There is a wealth of financial, technical and intellectual expertise among the Diaspora which need to be exploited to help tackle the challenges of development, environmental degradation, energy supply, HIV/AIDS, unemployment and food insecurity," Browne said.
He said the African Union and other regional organisations like ECOWAS could play lead roles in building the networks.
Browne also noted the need for Nigeria, as the most populous Black African nation, to provide the leadership on the continent in spurring the large Nigerian Diaspora to organise and use their strength as well as technical expertise to work for Africa.
Also speaking at the lecture, Segun Olusola, Nigeria's former Ambassador to Ethiopia and Chairman of the African Refugees Foundation, said "Our brothers (and sisters) in the Diaspora need to come home more often to interact with their kith and kin.
" He expressed the belief that more cultural interactions, like the African Festival of Arts and Culture scheduled for next year in Senegal and other engagements, would lead to better understanding between Africa and the Diaspora.