Perth, Friday (May 19, 2023) – All over the world, a diaspora plays a key role in the economic development of its motherland. They are accredited for the economic boom in some countries, including Israel, Singapore, Bosnia, and Brazil.
These are all countries that experienced sorts of displacements – wars, civil wars, economic recessions, and inflations.
After the restoration of stability, many returned home to promote trade and foreign direct investment, create businesses, spur entrepreneurship, and transfer new knowledge and skills.
Today, the South Sudanese diaspora in Australia has been calling upon the Kiir administration to adopt a policy that will help the government tap into its sea of skilled workforce.
There are roughly 20,000 South Sudanese citizens in Australia, thousands of whom have acquired “transferrable skills” and are currently working in both private and public sectors in the country.
As of today, the diaspora boasts of world-class professionals, including surgeons, civil engineers, lawyers, academics, and bureaucrats.
However, since the inception of the government of South Sudan in 2005, the leadership has been depending on the region for expertise. Kenyan and Ugandan nationals work in various sectors as experts, especially capacity building.
“Instead of paying foreign experts and specialists who drain the economy as they shift the cash outside the country, South Sudan has many opportunities to leverage the skills and expertise of her citizens in the diaspora and within,” writes Akuot Aciek, president of South Sudan Community Association of Western Australia, in an open letter addressed to President Salva Kiir.
He argues that the government has every right, “with policies and proper engagement” to find a way to involve the diaspora in the development of the nascent country.
He states: “Transnational citizens can be active actors in nation-building as demonstrated by the government of Ghana, which has attracted more than 20,000 health professionals from the diaspora.”
Recently, the Ghanaian government initiated a diaspora engagement program aimed at enhancing the capacity of Ghanaians abroad in a bid to effectively participate in national development in structured ways.
This was done through the channeling of their remittances to foster entrepreneurship, support innovation, and develop priority sectors of the economy.
In addition, the government believed that the diaspora could advance the development agenda through the use of their knowledge and skills to fill resources and knowledge gaps, as partners, and also as members and leaders of scientific and technical networks in Ghana.
Akuot says this is replicable, given the fact that South Sudan has a huge diaspora around the world, notably in the US, and Canada, needless to mention Australia.
Connecting with diasporas, and leveraging their various resources for development, the International Organization for Migration says it involves a multitude of government departments and other partners, and the interest and commitment of government at the highest levels to move such a cross-cutting agenda forward.
Observers noted that a governmental ministry or entity dedicated to diaspora issues could facilitate the necessary inter-ministerial coordination and ensure that these communities abroad are included in any national development plan.
Ghana and Kenya, for instance, have already established units within their respective governments to oversee diaspora affairs. The Kenyan government is now expected to establish a ministry of diaspora to engage with its citizens outside the country.
“Thus, South Sudan can strengthen its institutions, improve service delivery, develops its natural resources and stirs up its economic development by using her diaspora population that has enormous potential in helping the country in the following areas,” argues Akuot, who is an economist by training.
Apart from lending Juba skills, the professionals outside South Sudan could also help champion foreign policies.
Currently, the Kiir administration suffers several problems related to a lack of foreign policies and backup mechanisms.
For example, South Sudan is suffering financial sanctions and an arms embargo the UN Security Council and Troika have put on it and some of Kiir’s inner circle members like Vice President Taban Deng and Benjamin Bol Mel, presidential advisor on special programs.
“Therefore, South Sudanese here in the diaspora could be strong advocates and lobbyists for the interests of South Sudan if the government of South Sudan and South Sudanese communities in the diaspora have trusted and working communication channels and partnerships through the office’s ambassadors in the western countries and charitable Organizations,” he continues.
The diaspora in Australia goes on to remind the government that it has been helping citizens back home through upkeep. Akuot says though they remit money to individual families, such support in a way prevents people from taking to the streets to demand regime change.
“Such direct support provided by the diaspora has undoubtedly shielded the Government of South Sudan from civil disobedience that could have occurred from the cost-of-living pressures as the economy was decimated by war,” adds a member of the Economic Society of Australia.
By Tearz Ayuen/Africa World Books