Top Ad unit 728 × 90

Trending

random
.

Eritrean Diaspora Contribution: Dependency or Investment?

Asmara Cafe - Credit Natasha Stallard


By Meala Ghebremedhin

Academics and policy makers increasingly recognize the debate around the role of Diaspora in contributing
to the development of the homeland and the Eritrean Diaspora seems to be one example of this trend.

First, it is clear that the Government of Eritrea is well aware of its significant. In fact, it dated back
from the time of the armed struggle. You have probably seen how every speech or news starts with ‘Eritreans inside and in foreign countries’. Well, this may seem insignificant to many but it is a statement in which only few country recognize the role its Diaspora has.

Why does the Diaspora feel the need to contribute to the country they left? To understand this phenomenon, one should understand its meaning. In fact, Diaspora is often defined as migrant community, which is organized and has a sense of belonging to this community. Diasporas are usually active concerning the well being of the community but also of the homeland and willing to return as Mohan & ZackWilliams explained in the research titled Globalization from Below: Conceptualising the role of the African Diasporas in Africa’s Development (2002).

Accordingly, migrant communities are often willing to help the homeland and often consider it as their duty. The idealized perception of the home country is the tool for diasporic unity in order to support the homeland’s development. Indeed, Diasporas are usually mobile and have the advantage of learning from both resident and origin countries. They often use their skills such as languages to be active in the Diaspora. Hence, scholars are aware of the advantages Diasporas have taken by being multilingual for instance.
The latter explanation is one effect of global connections and networking between Diasporas, consequently, creating a transnational relation. Thus, globalization helps the work of Diaspora in the community and the homeland. Therefore, the term Diaspora can be associated with development in three ways: firstly, the creation of social ties among members of the Diaspora, helping each other for a sustaining existence. Secondly, migrants within Diasporas can use their social networks across the world in order to gain economic opportunities. Thirdly, the country of origin can also enforce transnational relations among migrants. Especially the historical context matters as it shapes the diasporic behavior in whether or not a transnational community would be functional.

Plus, governments welcome more easily projects held by Diasporas than foreign organizations (Kennedy 2000:89). Besides, transnational communities contribute to a sustainable form of development, as they know what is needed in the homeland. The transnational networks among Eritreans also gives the ability to adapt in different places for migrant communities through their sense of belonging to two homelands. Arguably, this transnational trend can contribute to the developmental support of the homeland through transnational activities, which can have political implications as migrants can use their remittances to lobby, finance investments and cultural events.

While globalization is thought to render borders meaningless, transnationalism to render nationhood passé, and the internet to have ushered in an new era of openness and connectivity, the activities of the Eritrean Diaspora and the Eritrean State point to the ways that nations not only continue to matter, but how nations can be constructed and strengthened through transnational flows and the technologies of globalization (Bernal 2004:3).

Accordingly, the money sent back home by migrants could be considerable according to certain countries.
Hence, different policies will be implemented, which reinforce the feeling of nationhood and motivate
transnational communities’ activities. This is specifically reflected in earlier states or newly independent
states in supporting development to strengthen this statement, remittances have become the second
largest source of financial support to less Developed Countries according to Solimano (2004:177). Besides,
the World Bank (WB) suggests that the amount of remittances towards Less developed countries was $164
billion in 2004-5 and $308 billion registered in 2008 (Ratha 2009 citedin Kennedy 2000: 92).

From my previous research undertaken in Switzerland, what is clear is that most Eritreans involved in the development of Eritrea immigrated in the 1970s-1980s. In fact, 20% of their annual salaries were sent to the liberated zones from the 1970s to the late 1980s. The contribution from the Diaspora during the armed struggle was not only financial but also political with the creation of associations such as the National Union of Eritrean Women, Eritrean workers and also the youth and students. Eritreans in the Diaspora started the movement for Eritrean Independence, which started in 1975 in Germany. Transnational networks among Eritreans were growing and increasingly influencing the homeland through congresses conducted once a year in Bologna, Italy with Eritreans from the Diaspora debating the situation in the homeland through seminars and cultural events. Therefore, the Eritrean Diaspora was already active before the actual phase of globalization.

Since the independence of Eritrea, the contribution did not end through the 2% tax for recovery and rehabilitation, the amount of transnational groups such as YPFDJ or NUEW are part of this phenomenon of organized Diaspora entities but also the unofficial method of sending money to relatives. The sense of belonging and duty to the homeland felt by the Diaspora is also strengthened by the state recognition and attractive policies towards its citizens living abroad for instance, allowing the dual citizenship, creating a bond system to buy a house, organizing cultural events and seminars.

Remittances are seen as a means to provide for the living of relatives, which confirm Tewolde’s (2005) findings written in its research entitled Remittances as a Tool for Development and Reconstruction in Eritrea: An Economic Analysis; from the household consumer survey that three quarter of respondents received remittances from abroad and around 89% had relatives in the Diaspora (Tewolde 2005:26-27). The case of the Eritrean Diaspora validates the affirmation by Kennedy (2000) that transnational migration is not just a cultural and political process but one which acts as central agent of economic globalization in its own right. The Eritrean Diaspora is a particular case, due to its significant involvement in the homeland.

Conceptualizing identity in the global era is clearly facilitated, but, as seen earlier, the Eritrean Diaspora shows that interconnection between transnational communities existed long before the “era of globalization”. Indeed, contributing to the homeland depends heavily on the historical context.

Remittances from Eritreans abroad as financial aid form a significant portion of Eritrea’s income and are vulnerable to any fluctuation. Consequently, these remittances depend heavily of the living conditions of those in exile and could create a dependency syndrome reflected onto the homeland. One challenging aspect is also the perception towards the Diaspora created through this dependency, as some relatives in Eritrea do not necessarily understand how the money was gained. In other words, Eritrean communities perceived financial help as a duty and it can be hard to sustain the same amount of money in a regular basis.

The feeling of maintaining their roots is based on a double consciousness of settling down in a new country while at the same time staying associated with another. 

The influence of globalization and cultural shrinkage will be the main challenge among the new generation, whose mobilization and contribution to the development of the “homeland” might differ from the previous one. Thus, my question to our dear readers is how could we cut down this dependency syndrome among Eritreans living in exile and those in the homeland? Could it be seen as an advantage rather than depending on international institutions? Could we think of other methods of contributing to the homeland, such as long-term investment? Would the diasporic consciousness and commitment remain among the younger generations? How about the question of brain-gain as the Swiss Ambassador for Eritrea and Sudan, Mr. Martin Strub, stressed that Eritrea has a huge potential and the use of its Diaspora through the notion of ‘know-how’ should be strengthened.

To be continued, while sipping this macchiato. 
Sponsored Ads
Eritrean Diaspora Contribution: Dependency or Investment? Reviewed by Admin on 6:18 AM Rating: 5

6 comments:

  1. You mast be out of your mind. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. ...Hope you got the message.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It is a good discussion point. I found the following statement useful to redigest it. ".. how nations can be constructed and strengthened through transnational flows and the technologies of globalization (Bernal 2004:3). "
    - how could we cut down this
    dependency syndrome among Eritreans living in exile and those in the
    homeland:
    strengethened means of contribution, those who can afford can open an indigenous
    NGO with the concent of the gov't creates jobb opportunity.
    - Could it be seen as an advantage rather than depending on
    international institutions?
    International institution could not be depending rather are agreement
    between nations to help each other. More over every country contribute
    to UN and the income is from there. Reliable implementation of projects creat
    trust and good partnership.

    - Could we think of other methods of
    contributing to the homeland, such as long-term investment? This has been tried but had failed due to many reasons. Proper study,
    understanding and agreement of the two parties is needed with the existing
    capacity being capital or material availability.
    - Would the
    diasporic consciousness and commitment remain among the younger
    generations?
    the young generation should be commited and use the opportunity to study hard and concentrate to be competent professionally. Serve for limited
    period in schools and institutions and share experiences.
    - How about the question of brain-gain as the Swiss
    Ambassador for Eritrea and Sudan, Mr. Martin Strub, stressed that
    Eritrea has a huge potential and the use of its Diaspora through the
    notion of ‘know-how’ should be strengthened.
    This I didn't understand. Does It mean knowledge and the use of their fund?

    My feelings towards this important article is that it has created dependency. It has increased the fleeing of youth. The sentiment to support family had hampered the educational opportunity of many Eritreans in the past and at present. The other reason had opened a room for material competition and sometimes creates disparity of among nations.

    ReplyDelete
  3. After independence many diaspora Eritreans returned home to invest in their home country. But the dictator and his inner circle made their life and investment hard. How can you invest in a country where there is no work force? The dictator keeps every adult I'm the endless national service (actually slavery service) and investors has to beg the dictator for work force. Most diaspora gave up and returned to their host country empety handed and lost their life saving. Issayas had theree so called investment conference but no real reform followed . Let alone diaspora even those wealthy Eritreans who used to live there chose to leave and invest their money in other African countries. Issayas is against investment and we'll being of Eritrea and his people, because of his lately developed identity complex.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dear Meala at a first glance i say thank you for sharing your analysis, i like how you go in detail and also the way you put in the last paragraph the question to us: how to do? or what is convenient in future to make the best out-put from us.
    I know lately there is plan to make a know-how contributions from those who have a high education or want to share their professional experience in some way in our Country with our citizens..we need to organize, but lovely you just write about this issue..we need to talk about this matters in our group communities

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am glad y put Right. I see it the other way round. There were many things to put in place. The projects were there as y said but there were many mischieves I personally suspect. The political awareness of some of us were not right. I mean there were miscalculation. Now is the time for all of us to think right.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Totally false..enqua dea ab hiwet hallena, kemzi gerkum aynena ketenquruna..neseqas men kenebleka ina?
    Iti haqi..qedmi wegeh mes agame, adena serah be serah iyu nieru..
    Not stating this fact, i deduct from this point you're agame and liar, you can't twist Eritreans negernakum nierna qedem..Eritrawi gambiella wala barya aykonen, HANGOL allewo..kemzi ilka ne agametat kemaqa shaterrom..ne Eritrawian ayteshateromn iqa..
    Lieba

    ReplyDelete

All Rights Reserved by Madote © 2016

Contact Form

Name

Email *

Message *

Powered by Blogger.