Harnessing Diaspora Engagement for Africa's Future: Insights from the 2024 African Diaspora Investment Symposium (ADIS24)

lmaz Negash, ADN Founder, delivers a welcome address at ADIS24
8 April 2024
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African Diaspora Network (San Jose)
  • African Diaspora Network (ADN) convenes the 9th annual African Diaspora Investment Symposium (ADIS24) in Silicon Valley.
  • President Biden's Africa Diaspora Advisory Council proclaims partnerships and resource mobilization to bolster climate resilience in Africa.  
  • USAID formalizes diaspora engagement to drive economic growth, as Prosper Africa partners with ADN to target investments in African innovation.
  • Nigeria Philanthropy Office (NPO) hosts a private networking event at ADIS24 to launch President Tinubu's $200m impact investment platform.  

The 9th edition of the annual African Diaspora Investment Symposium (ADIS24) recently convened in San Jose, California, emphasizing the pivotal role of diaspora engagement in shaping Africa's future. Organized by the African Diaspora Network (ADN) in Silicon Valley, ADIS24 brought together global investors, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders to address urgent challenges, particularly climate change. Themed "Activate With Africa: Climate Change, Connections, And Action" discussions focused on President Biden's diaspora engagement, African innovation, impact investments, the African Union's Agenda 2063, and Africa-led climate solutions.

From innovative approaches to climate resilience to fostering economic partnerships, the symposium showcased the benefits of collaboration between the diaspora and stakeholders across the continent. Esteemed speakers led discussions on humanitarian assistance, climate adaptation, and economic development. In her opening remarks at ADIS24, Santa Clara County Supervisor Suzan Ellenberg, emphasized the responsibility of the county government in providing essential services to vulnerable populations and the African Diaspora. Acknowledging the county's role as the primary 'safety net' provider, Ellenberg highlighted extensive support in housing, food, healthcare, social services, and mental health care. Beyond its safety net functions, Santa Clara County boasts California's second-largest public healthcare system, operating prestigious facilities such as comprehensive hospitals, trauma centers, and rehabilitation centers. ‎

Almaz Negash, Founder of the African Diaspora Network (ADN), recanted the organization's journey in her welcome remarks to ADIS24 attendees. She acknowledges the unwavering support ADN receives, particularly from individuals like the President of Pepsi Foundation, C.D. Glin, who delivered the ADIS24 opening keynote address. Negash highlights the transformative impact of collaborative efforts, recalling her initial encounter with Glin during challenging times, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. ADN has flourished through shared dedication and generosity, expanding its reach and impact, with Negash recently named to President Biden's Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement (PAC-ADE).

One key takeaway from three days of in-depth dialogue was transitioning from reactive humanitarian assistance to proactive investment in long-term development initiatives. The first plenary session at ADIS24, 'Exploring the Impact: the President's African Diaspora Engagement Council, ' deliberated on the crucial need to reduce investment in future humanitarian crises. This sentiment echoed the collective aspiration of diaspora Africans to channel resources toward building adaptive capacity in vulnerable communities with dwindling economic resilience.

ADIS24 Plenary - Exploring Impact: The President’s African Diaspora Engagement Council

Executive Director of President Biden's Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement (PAC-ADE), Deniece Laurent-Mantey, and other council members spoke on the panel about President Biden's call for a different way of partnering with Africa; formalizing a strategic approach to bringing diaspora voices to the table to impact how the United States engages with Africa. Highlighting President Biden's commitment to climate resilience , she remarked, "President Biden's emergency plan for adaptation and resilience, launched at COP 28, will help more than half a billion people in developing countries adapt to and manage the impacts of climate change this decade." This proactive approach to climate action leverages partnerships and resource mobilization to bolster resilience in the face of environmental challenges.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) efforts to mobilize finance for climate adaptation, including partnerships with private sector entities, are also worthy of note. ADIS24 Keynote Speaker Monde Muyangwa, Assistant Administrator in the USAID Bureau for Africa, in demonstrating a concerted effort to build resilience in vulnerable communities across Africa had this to say:

"As co-lead of this initiative, USAID is working with partners to get early warning and climate information into people's hands so that they can become more resilient to climate impacts. We are helping countries and communities increase the resiliency of their infrastructure and water, health, and food systems by helping them access public and private finance. The first round of commitments under the President's Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience, PREPARE, a private sector Call to Action, launched at COP28 and has mobilized more than $610 million and supported more than 9.3 million people in Africa and Middle East Latin America to adapt better and mitigate climate change".  

ADIS24 brought to the fore the importance of formalizing diaspora engagement efforts to ensure alignment with the broader strategic objectives of the various African countries. Muyangwa further shared; "USAID has been doing diaspora work for a long time...We're now trying to develop an African diaspora bureau to formalize some of the good stuff that we're doing." Establishing an African diaspora bureau within USAID reflects a commitment to harnessing diaspora expertise and resources in advancing sustainable development goals.

The symposium also highlighted the role of initiatives like Prosper Africa in catalyzing economic partnerships between the United States and Africa to enhance economic cooperation and mutual prosperity. Prosper Africa represents a tangible commitment and debuted a partnership with ADN at ADIS24 to directly engage diaspora businesses and foster innovation in key sectors such as healthcare, information technology, and agriculture. Prosper Africa comprises 17 US government agencies that work together to increase economic partnership between the United States and Africa, catalyzing two-way trade and investment.   Reflecting on the impact of Prosper Africa in creating a supportive ecosystem for diaspora businesses and unlocking opportunities for mutual prosperity, Muyangwa further remarked;

L-R: Almaz Negash, Founder ADN, Evelyn Dan Epelle, ADIS24 Media Lead, Chike Nwoffiah, Executive Director at Silicon Valley African Film Festival, and Remmy Bahati, Journalist at Colombia University Press pose for a photo at ADIS24

"We know that young people are Africa's future, and the US takes that very seriously. Through several youth programs, specifically our Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) launched in 2010, we have invested in young Africans. We do this because Africa has the world's youngest population. Summarily, 2% of Africans are under the age of 35. The median age in Africa is 90, and by 2051, one out of two Africans will be under 25. There is a generation of young people with potential power and drive to determine today's economic rules while combating climate change and building a more equitable future for their communities."  

Nigeria's transformative potential was unleashed at ADIS24 with the Nigeria Office for Philanthropy and Impact Investing (NPO) at a private networking event to launch President Tinubu's $200m impact investment platform to unlock new business opportunities for young aspiring entrepreneurs. Thelma Ekiyor-Solanke, Chairperson of NPO, was at ADIS24 to amplify Nigeria's entrepreneurial landscape and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu's job creation agenda for visionary leaders and philanthropic organizations, ready to catalyze innovation in partnership with young creatives.

Conversations at ADIS24 underscored the pivotal role of youth empowerment in shaping Africa's economic trajectory. Africa's youth demographic is poised to drive economic growth and innovation. Youth empowerment was a cornerstone of ADIS24 discussions, with speakers highlighting the potential of Africa's youth demographic to drive innovation and economic growth.

As the symposium concluded in the classic Hayes Mansion in California, optimism and determination filled the air. There was ample opportunity for networking and connecting with participants to translate dialogue into action. The recognition of Africa's immense potential, coupled with concrete initiatives to leverage diaspora engagement, creates a promising pathway toward a prosperous and resilient future for the continent.

The 2024 Africa Diaspora Investment Symposium served as a platform for fostering collaboration, generating innovative solutions, and mobilizing resources to address Africa's most pressing challenges. When harnessed, the diaspora's collective expertise and resources can unlock new opportunities for sustainable development and inclusive growth across the African continent.

Evelyn Dan Epelle is a multimedia journalist at KAFTAN TV Nigeria and a Public Affairs Manager at Baobab Consulting LLC, USA. She served as Media Lead and foreign correspondent at ADIS24, representing Baobab Consulting, the official media and public relations partner of the African Diaspora Investment Symposium. Evelyn led global press engagement by arranging media interviews between African and African Diaspora journalists and ADIS24 speakers.

Remmy Bahati i s an award-winning Columbia University-trained journalist from Uganda who works as a Research Communications Specialist for the City University of New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Remmy attended ADIS24 in San Jose, covering key stakeholder participation on social media as part of a media brokerage initiative, 'Diaspora Open Space' she co-launched in Silicon Valley.

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