Blue Economy Conference VC Paul Zeleza 26112018 02
Vice Chancellor Prof. Paul Zeleza addresses delegates at a side event of the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference held on November 26 at the University of Nairobi. The event was co-hosted by USIU-Africa together with University of Nairobi, International Organization for Migration, the Ford Foundation and the African Development Bank Group. PHOTO: CHAMS MEDIA

By  Taigu Muchiri

The Sustainable Blue Economy Conference was held on November 26-28 in Nairobi, and brought together the global community of governments, organizations, businesses and the private sector, as well as to individual experts from around the globe.

The two-day conference explored how to harnesses the potential of oceans, seas, lakes and rivers to improve the lives of all, particularly people in developing countries, women, youth and indigenous peoples, leverages the latest innovations, scientific advances and best practices to build prosperity while conserving waters for future generations.

The Blue Economy is considered to encompass the sustainable use and conservation of the oceans, seas, lakes, rivers and other water resources. These resources present potential for sustainable and inclusive development. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development gives prominence to the Blue Economy’s contribution towards the achievement of sustainable development.

The conference had also featured several side events in partnerships with local Universities, private sector organizations and government to discuss specific topics that will spur growth and encourage investments in the Blue economy.

USIU-Africa, University of Nairobi, International Organization for Migration, the Ford Foundation and Africa Development Bank co-hosted a side event to discuss “The contribution of global diaspora to the sustainable blue economy for national development and international solidarity” at the University of Nairobi on November 26.

In his address, Vice Chancellor Prof. Paul Zeleza, whose research project on the African academic diaspora conducted for the Carnegie Corporation of New York in 2011-12 led to the establishment of the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program in 2013, that has to date sponsored nearly 400 African born academics in the United States and Canada to work with dozens of universities in six African Countries, noted that the diaspora economic contributions are equally diverse in their range and impact “Diaspora economic contributions include remittances, philanthropy, investment, and human capital flows.” said Prof. Zeleza. In his remarks, he mentioned that in 2007, remittances to the developing countries were estimated at more than $320 billion, almost double the amount in 2001.  A World Bank report estimates that in 2017, they reached $457 billion out of total global remittance flows of $613 billion. According to the World Bank report on Migration and Remittances in 2017 and 2018, remittances in African countries reached $69.5 billion after dropping in 2015 and 2016 and the $2 billion that is remitted on a yearly basis to Kenya, is the largest source of foreign exchange earnings and contributes a significant amount toward the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“The diaspora community not only provide financial contribution through remittances, they can promote trade and direct investments to businesses that spur entrepreneurship and create and transfer new knowledge and skills. Over the last couple of years, African countries have been making a plea to the diaspora to make their contributions towards development,” Prof. Mbithi, University of Nairobi Vice Chancellor.

It has become imperative for governments to anchor their development agenda on diaspora and create opportunities for them. In addition, governments and international development agencies need to employ the best skilled diaspora because they possess valuable skills that cannot be sourced locally and are highly trained in their respective fields. According to Michael Pillinger IOM Chief of Mission in Kenya, “The important thing to acknowledge is that they bring skills to the countries they visit and stay in. In addition, they learn new skills at the international arena and have a good understanding on how to deal with different cultures.”