Engaging Namibians abroad through national diaspora policy
By Adolf Kaure.
The Executive Director in the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, Ambassador Penda Naanda said the introduction of a Namibia Diaspora Policy would help improve the country’s socio-economic development.
He made these remarks at the opening of the three-day multi-sectorial technical workshop on the development of the implementation plan of the draft National Policy on the Namibian Diaspora which started in Swakopmund on Wednesday, 10 May.
“The development of the Namibia Diaspora Policy represents a quantum leap in the way Namibia perceives the importance of [its own] Diaspora and how best to engage and involve the Diaspora community.”
“Our wish is therefore, to have our Namibians in the diaspora become a potent force our socio-economic and cultural development through, not only their remittances, but through the promotion of trade, investment research, innovation, knowledge and technology transfer,” he said.
To date, no accurate data exists on the number of Namibians living abroad, however, a 2013 study by the UN Department on Economic and Social Affairs indicates that in 2013, there were 137,498 Namibians living abroad.
Available data from Namibian missions abroad indicates that the majority of the Diaspora lives in South Africa, followed by Zambia and the USA.
“The lack of a comprehensive database of Namibian Diaspora and a comprehensive diaspora profile make it difficult to ascertain the living conditions and the wellbeing of Namibians abroad.”
“With only thirty-four diplomatic missions around the world covering over 100 countries, it is imperative for the government to establish a policy that will enhance engagement between various Namibian institutions and the Namibian Diaspora.”
“Through the development of a Diaspora Policy, the government will establish formal and institutionalized structures to engage Diaspora issues.”
He further said that such an engagement will also augment consular services for the Namibian Diaspora and support their initiatives for investment in Namibia.
“Namibia has a shortage of critical skills, and the Diaspora Policy will seek to complement the objectives of the National Migration Policy and the National Labour Migration Policy and its Action Plan of 2020, to address this skills gap, amongst other challenges.”
With Independence, many Namibians returned home from exile while some stayed in their adopted countries. Despite this return to home turf, with the advent of globalization, a steady stream of Namibians have emigrated in search of better prospects.
In early 2021, Cabinet directed the start of the process to develop a Namibia Diaspora Policy.
A technical committee was established in the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, to implement this decision.
Caption: Participants of the multi-sectoral technical workshop on the development of the implementation plan for the Namibia Diaspora Policy. (Photograph by Adolf Kaure)