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The East African : May 24th 2015
32 The EastAfrican OUTLOOK MAY 23-29,2015 project and to control the demographic composition of their countries by discouraging a national demographic mosaic. Dual citizenship has been gaining prominence in a number of African countries. It is a bilateral arrangement that observes reciprocity of two concerned countries — say, Tanzania and the US, Malawi and the UK or South Africa and Australia. Its advantage is in enjoying dual advantages of two countries that may be at opposite ends of the development scale. Yet, the uncontemplated con- sequence of dual citizenship is that the citizens of African countries tend to prefer their second home to their original one. And here comes the crunch: Africans tend to prefer remaining longer and investing in their countries of second citizenship where law and order prevail , corruption does not affect the fabric of society and compromise its survival, and doing business is easier and more efficient. The second country provides Kenyans in the US dance with President Uhuru Kenyatta when he visited Washington. Many Africans in the diaspora do not return home Picture: File Dual citizenship: Af≥icans p≥efe≥ thei≥ adopted count≥ies to home COMMENTARY JOHN OUCHO Transnationalism is gathering momentum, propelled by globalisation, and is becoming the order of life for many African business persons. W riting in 2004 on “The future of international migration to OECD countries a,” Laurent Bossard stated that “African migration to developed countries is marginal — 7.2 million officially identified African migrants in OECD member countries in 2004 — 3.8 million North Africans and 3.4 million sub-Saharan Africans.” What therefore is the legiti- macy of the claim of some medium-size African countries that their national diasporas exceed 3 million? Data from the United Na- tions Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNdesa) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) indicate that half of the immigrants in OECD countries come from 16 countries, among them just two African countries — Algeria and Morocco. The notion that size of the African emigrants populationis big in these countries lacks evidence and amounts to a mere guesstimate. As expected, some emigrants become immensely successful, others end up undertaking employment that is grossly incommensurate with their education or has nothing to do with their skills – and therefore, earns them pitiable remuneration. With time, emigration has become the main source of emigrant or, loosely dubbed, “diaspora remittances.” Loosely dubbed because every African out of his/her country of birth or citizenship in not necessarily a diaspora unless maintaining strong links with his or her origins. The AU claims that African emigrants constitute the AU’s “sixth region” after East, Central, North, South and West Africa. My take is that the AU mem- ber states are individual countries, not lumped in the five regions, and it is unrealistic to expect African emigrants to behave as a unanimous bloc that could represent or work for the good of Africa. Some migration experts also remind us that the concept of diaspora should not be confined to Africans outside the continent as in any case the vast volume of Africans migrate within the continent to other African countries where they are never considered diaspora. Instead, they become victims of overt or covert xenophobia. It is better to interpret the term diaspora accurately, rather than say that Africans think like a bloc to serve their continent. There are a few exceptions, such as academic and professional groups who do that, but even these have never occupied any niche in any one African nation as a bloc; not when overt xenophobia permeates South African society and covert xenophobia exists in all other African countries with large numbers of immigrants and refugees. Development discourse Jonathan Crush in the journal Migration and Development five scenarios on the relationship between migration and development. Due to poverty and a lack of development, migration is the “root cause” of international migration. Poverty reduction/ eradication and dismal economic development in the countries of origin push population out of their countries as the opposite conditions in the destinations pull them. Second, North-South remit- tances have positive development implications for households and communities in the countries of origin. Third, “transnationalism,” sometimes referred to “transna- tional migration” is assuming increasing importance as migrants live between rather than within sovereign states thereby replacing ‘“brain drain” with “diaspora engagement” in development. From a policy perspective in both the North and the South, the diaspora, in Mr Crush’s view, are “development agents” and “partners.” A fourth scenario fast gaining significance is “co-development,” in which the countries of both origin and destination regulate the circulation of foreigners and migrants. Yet, countries in the South suspect that their partners in the North benefit more from such an arrangement. Finally, intra-regional free- dom of movement is perceived to benefit both origin and destination states. In Africa, free movement protocols have been adopted by virtually all regional economic communities. With increased emigration of Africans from their countries, many African countries have embraced dual citizenship. At independence, many African countries encouraged singular citizenship on the grounds ofsafeguarding national purity and patriotism. The newly independent na- tions, then enjoying the euphoria of independence, wanted to ensure loyalty to their country as part of the nation building immense opportunities for naturalised citizens. Why then would a Nigerian return to a chaotic Lagos to invest when he/she could do so in New York? Why would a Ugandan return to Kampala without the requisite infrastructure for development to venture into business if Montreal offers better prospects? The simple fact is that dual citizenship could be counterproductive to the diaspora policy, in fact could thwart it altogether. The countries have merely assented to their emigrants’ demand for dual nationality given that the nationals left of their own free will, often without their country authorities knowing. It would be interesting to as- certain the frequency of dual citizens’ periodic visits to their African home countries beyond so-called diaspora homecoming conferences. We have witnessed such fo- rums for Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Mali, Kenya and many more countries without any tangible results. Stil transnationalism is gath- ering momentum. It has been propelled by globalisation and is becoming the order of life for many African business person — from business magnates to petty traders plying between Africa and Europe and Asia. It has been noted that the world lacks a consensus on international migration. It was marginalised or simply ignored in the Millennium Development Goals. However, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel as Sustainable Development Goals incorporate the MDGs and because SDGs recognise the role of migration in the post-2015 development agenda. John Oucho is a p≥ofesso≥ of population studies at the Unive≥sity of Nai≥obibased Af≥ican Mig≥ation and Development Policy Cent≥e.
May 17th 2015
May 31st 2015