Zanzibar — THE diaspora has today become an area of focus in many developing countries. Even researchers concur that people in the diaspora can help build the national economies.
Zanzibar has taken serious measures in getting closer to its diaspora, and has devised various initiatives to recognize its people living abroad so that they are integrated in the development agenda.
Diaspora has been described as "national migrant communities living in interaction among themselves and with their country of origin, in other words this may be a scattered population abroad with a common origin."
In his latest move to "absorb" the diaspora, Zanzibar President Dr Ali Mohamed Shein welcomed members in this community last week on the Isles, saying the government values their contributions to their country of origin. "We value your contributions to the development of our country.
The diaspora policy is in pipeline and so is the law," said Dr Shein at a luncheon also attended by several government leaders. Second Vice President- Ambassador Seif Ali Iddi, Speaker of the Zanzibar House Mr Pandu Ameir Kificho, legislators, regional commissioners, and executives were among the people who turned up to rub shoulders with the guests.
The meeting brought together members of diaspora from United Kingdom, Canada, United States Denmark, Sweden, Oman, UAE, Germany, Netherlands, Austria, and Switzerland. Dr Shein thanked them for their contributions at home, which include items and money to their families and the community.
The president thanked the diaspora also for supporting education and health sectors, saying that the development of the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA) including the PhD course in Kiswahili language has been contributed by members of the diaspora.
He emphasized that the government was committed to speeding up development and that all Zanzibaris regardless of where they live, have a noble role to play in achieving the development goals.
"I have been working closely with President Jakaya Kikwete to make sure that members of the diaspora are recognized and included in development initiatives," he said, while requesting them to support promoting peace and stability in the country.
Zanzibar, he said, has been recording success in building its economy through strengthening sources of income like tourism, now advertised in different media outlets including BBC, as the islands with many tourist attractions.
Mr Mohammed Ramia Abdiwawa, advisor to Zanzibar president (foreign affairs, investments, and economy), said people in the diaspora have been recognized by many countries as key players in social, economical, and political development. He said together with the government, they have teamed up to see that Vision 2020, the anti poverty strategy (MKUZA), and the global Millennium Development Goals (MDG) are achieved.
Ms Hafsa Hassan Mbamba, on behalf of members of the diaspora, thanked President Shein and the government for their efforts in recognizing and involving them in development programmes.
"We appreciate efforts being taken by the government," said Mbamba, promising to promote Zanzibar abroad. Dr Mwinyihaji Makame Mwadini, Minister of State (responsible for State House, good governance, and Diaspora) said his office had been collecting data about members of the diaspora in each region.
In June this year the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation (MFAIC), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) organized a meeting in Zanzibar. One of the points on the agenda was that Tanzanians living outside the country need recognition and support to increase their contribution to the development of the country.
The meeting was among series of activities to implement the "Migration for Development Project" entitled "Enhancing the Migration Evidence Base for the Development of Tanzania" focusing on the contribution of women in the diaspora to their country of origin.
It is estimated that women make 14 per cent of the about three million Tanzanians in the diaspora with leading number in neighbouring countries, USA, UK, and CANADA. "We need to find ways of supporting members of the diaspora with special focus on the women's contributions," Ms Rosemary Jairo, Director of the Department of Diaspora Engagement and Opportunities, said in June at a meeting on "Women and Diaspora."
Ambassador Mwanaidi Sinare Maajar, former envoy to the UK and the USA had encouraged the empowerment of women in the diaspora because they play an active role in host and home countries. "Women are a source of development in our country, let us help them.The government needs to have a policy and improve the environment for the diaspora," said Ms Maajar.