Over the past few years, the government of Ethiopia has taken various steps to encourage Ethiopian diaspora communities to play active role in their home country. In this regard, variety of service packages have been designed to encourage and support the Diaspora to invest in various sectors. This initiative has enabled all Ethiopians living abroad to come and invest in their home country. With an interest to pay their share in the socio-economic development of their country, many Ethiopians from abroad are currently taking active participation in various developmental ventures.
Recently, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism held a consultative meeting with Diaspora engaged in various sectors in the country. The Ministry stressed that the diaspora have to boost efforts in promoting cultural values and building the positive image of the country in a way to support the national economic growth. Indeed, tourism became an increasingly attractive and effective development approach for diaspora in Ethiopia. The diaspora are an untapped resource with a great deal of potential for the advancement of development works. According to World Tourism Organization (WTO), tourism to developing countries has experienced strong growth, with a 7 per cent increase in sub-Saharan Africa over the past year and an impressive 9 per cent jump in visitors to South and South-east Asia. Though the government enhances them to benefit from investment, there is still also restriction to involve Diaspora in untapped tourism sub-sectors other than service sectors. To this effect, diaspora investors should recognize and exploit opportunities to contribute to job creation and economic growth.
In fact, the nation has shown remarkable success in attracting Diaspora direct investors in their country of origin. Diaspora can also play the role in contributing to development by creating businesses, stimulating innovation, introducing cultures and building the good image of their country. So, they support themselves and help to reduce overt unemployment.
As Diaspora appraise and take advantage of market openings, they have more likely a positive impact on economic development. So, both the government and the Diaspora investors should close together to resolve some bureaucratic issues through continuous discussions and cooperation. In this regard, Culture and Tourism State Minister Tadelech Dalecho stressed that the Ministry is working to address good governance problems that the Diaspora are facing in their investment business undertaking in the country. Of course, Diaspora have to further intensify their efforts in the fight against poverty and join hands with the government to address problems of good governance, and malpractices.
In this case, though the government is trying noteworthy efforts to attract Diaspora investment, it is unmistakable to say there is a proactive diaspora engagement, and promising prospects for economic growth. The government must also modify such opportunities and policies to make them more appealing to and supportive of Diaspora investors.
As most of the Ethiopian Diaspora are engaged in investment areas confined only to service sector such as hotels, resorts and tour guides, they should come through identifying and exploiting untapped opportunities as well as understand profitable markets before starting businesses. They must also discover the right knowledge they need to fund their ventures, and clear the obstacles that arise on their path toward realizing their goals.
On the other hand, the diaspora has also huge potential in increasing remittance that would be translated into savings, investments and better livelihood of citizens. According to the World Bank, African diaspora mostly in North America and Europe send home up to 40 billion USD annually, which exceeded that of its foreign trade revenue.
Moreover, the government is preparing a new tourism brand to ensure active participation of the Diaspora in economic, political and social spheres. It is significant to modernize traditions and cultures in a way to generate income, and encourage innovations to boost the national and individuals' economy. Thus, the Diaspora should participate in promoting the diverse cultures, and building the national image through creating business in arts and traditions.
In sum, as the diaspora have been exposed to experiences and knowledge in hosting countries, it is easier for them to create massive jobs for citizens and contribute importantly to the sustainable economic growth of the country. The Diaspora can make a huge difference to the country development in every aspect. As many call for, the Diaspora active engagement would play crucial role in boosting investment thereby creating a positive image of the country and drawing more tourists in the country. Therefore, the Diaspora must effectively be mobilized to actively maximize their resources, and build huge economies through cultural promotion without fearing to challenges such as lack of good governance and other bureaucratic bottlenecks.