The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Engaging the Diaspora as Force for Dev't

editorial

Kigali — Rwandans in the Diaspora are meeting in Kigali to map out strategies on how they can better serve their country. As this important group of Rwandans meet, the Central Bank has given them the green light to set up the Rwanda Diaspora Mutual Fund to mobilize resources for investing in various sectors of their interest within the country.

The Rwandan Diaspora is increasingly becoming an important sector of our society, contributing immensely to the development on this country. Last year, remittances from this group rose to $175 million up from $139 million that was recorded a year before.

The figures are expected to rise this year, despite the on-going global financial crisis.

What has been lacking in the past, is a mobilization strategy that ably engages this group.

This seems to have been resolved, especially with the setting up of a directorate in the Foreign Affairs Ministry, coordinating Diaspora interests.

And the fruits are beginning to show, as the noble initiative of the one -dollar campaign designed solely by members of the Rwandan Diaspora demonstrates.

Across Africa, estimates show financial flows from the Diaspora on average contribute 5-10 percent of some African countries' Gross Domestic Product.

Besides these remittances, the utmost contribution that the Diaspora can do, is marketing their home countries. For Rwanda, our Diaspora can be an effective force in economic growth by mobilizing foreign investors and encouraging tourists to visit.

Government has put in place policies that favour members of our Diaspora that include the adoption of a law on double citizenship. What the Diaspora needs is to tap these opportunities and contribute to the transformation of their country.

As the world increasingly turns into a global village, the question of where one resides is irrelevant, particularly when they are motivated by patriotism and the desire to develop their own country.

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