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Dr RosaLyn Dressman, chairperson of the AfricanTide Union, will give a speech on the role of the Diaspora in shaping the development co-operation polices of their countries of residence with Africa / Photo: AfricanTide Union

Africa Day Dortmund: Ambassador advises Diaspora Africans to focus on small projects

A top diplomat has advised Africans in the Diaspora not to focus on big projects in their efforts to contribute to the development of their homelands.

Speaking at the Africa Day commemoration in Dortmund last weekend, Nigeria’s acting ambassador to Greece, Usman Ogah, said the Diaspora in their desire to make a contribution to the development of their countries had good ideas but seem to concentrate on big ones, which in most cases are difficult to realise.

This should not necessarily be so, he advised at the event, which commemorates the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (now African Union), and was organised by AfricaTide Union, a non-governmental organisation.

“If you can do anything however small to raise the standard of living of people in your local communities back home, you would have made a significant contribution,” he pointed out to an audience of participants across Europe. 

Mr Ogah said he had observed that Africans abroad usually propose big projects but that there’re also big obstacles to the realisation of such proposals. “Instead of going to Abuja with a big idea, go to your home town or village and look at what you can do in your little way to make the lives of the people there better,” he said in reference to Nigerians.

The envoy mentioned the provision of drinkable water, agriculture, education and solar power as areas that the Diaspora can be of immense help to their people.

“Take one project at a time and implement it to success,” Ogah advised, cautioning against embarking on too many projects at the same time. “If 300 Nigerians abroad implement a single project in their local communities at home every year, much will be achieved to better the lot of our people within the spate of a few years,” he added.

From left: Ambassador Usman Ari Ogah, Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Athens, Greece; Joy Annancy, General Secretary of AfricanTide Union; and a participant / Photo: ATU

Ambassador Ogah also challenged organisers of conferences on Africa to follow up on proposed solutions. “I have noticed that in most cases, after all the discussions and deliberations, nothing is usually heard after the conferences,” he said.

The Nigerian envoy said Africans abroad were the real ambassadors of their countries and should not relent in their efforts to continue to seek ways to contribute to the development of the continent.

In her opening speech, Dr RosaLyn Dressman, chairperson of AfricanTide Union, said the Africa Day commemoration, which her organisation was hosting for the seventh time this year, was history-making. The event, she explained brings Africans from across Europe together to seek solutions to problems affecting the continent.

“Africans in the Diaspora already support their compatriots at home through remittances but there is a need to go beyond this financial support and proffer solutions to the problems that are hindering development and growth in the continent,” she added.

Mrs Dressman, who is a publisher, author, sociologist and development expert, said that only when Africa overcomes its development challenges will the current migration crisis be solved. She called on Africans in the Diaspora not to relent on their efforts to help make their countries better.

Dressman called for more city-to-city alliances between Africa and Germany which she said favours a more effective development co-operation. She had observed that development projects implemented in African countries don’t usually create jobs for young people. The development expert therefore appealed to international organisations and Western countries to design their projects in such a way that they will not only impart knowledge on the recipients but also create employment opportunities for them.

Dressman explained the work of AfricanTide Union and revealed that it was in the process of producing working documents on development projects which it will submit to African and European governments.

Dressman said that her organisation partnered with Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Europe (NIDOE) this year because Nigeria was a major sender nation of migrants and the 3-day congress’s focus was on development and migration.

From left: Motivation speaker and entrepreneur Steve Odhiambo, Edwin Akabuko Schmid of SmallWorld Project, Vivian Timothy, an award-winning artist, and other participants at the congress / Photo: ATU

In her closing remarks, she praised Dortmund, describing it as a “welcoming and friendly city” for hosting many Africans who live in the city.

The Africa Day in Dortmund, which took place on 25-27 May under the theme “Agenda 2030: Sustainable Development Goals”, was held concurrently with the NIDOE Project Summit 2017.

A major objective of the 3-day congress was to beam the searchlight on the causes of migration of young people from African countries, who seek refuge in Europe. 

Femi Awoniyi

About AfricanTide Union

AfricanTide Union e.V. was founded in 2010 to promote the integration of migrants, especially from the African continent, and to make a lasting contribution to intercultural understanding and mutual respect in Germany. The non-governmental organisation also deals with the issues of development and migration.

More about the organisation at: http://www.africantide.com

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