Malawi need to develop diaspora mapping and profiling in order to effectively engage people living outside the country in the development processes.
International Organization for Migration (IOM) Head Officer in Malawi, Mpilo Nkomo made the observation Thursday in Lilongwe at Crossroads Hotel during the national Consultation workshop on global compact on safe, orderly and regular migration.
He noted that the country stand to benefit from diaspora mapping and profiling since the initiative would provide a better platform to meaningfully engage Malawians living in diaspora.
Nkomo said the mapping and profiling exercise could be executed by using partners or consultants to shop around the global to trace Malawians living outside the country.
“Countries like Ethiopia, Nigeria, Kenya and Eritrea have done the mapping and profiling strategies and it has worked effectively for the benefit of people in diaspora and their countries in terms of initiating development agendas,” he observed.
The IOM Head in Malawi explained that the challenge most countries face in order to fully engage people living in diaspora is the case of dual citizenships.
“We have noted that most people are forced to change their nationalities due to a number of reasons which make them hide their real identities,” he pointed out.
Nkomo said government should come up with ways and means of opening up various opportunities to the diaspora community so that they should effectively contribute to national development.
Regional Policy and Liaison Officer for IOM based in Pretoria, Naomi Shiferaw said the issue of remittance has been high on the agenda among diaspora communities, saying they face a lot of challenges when they want to transfer funds back home.
She said members within Africa Union are encouraged to work with the Africa Union Institute of Remittances which is based in Kenya in order to address the challenge being encountered on the issue of remittances.
“Most African countries are failing to come up with appreciate figures on how diaspora remittances are contributing to their Domestic Growth Product (DGP) since most of the diaspora communities are fond of using informal channels to transfer funds back home,” Shiferaw pointed out.
She explained that once a machinery has been put in place, countries would be able to know how much the diaspora communities are contributing to their GDPs.
A Malawi based nurse in UK, Abagail Banda, complained that the country was delaying in responding to the issue of accepting dual citizenship.
“Other friends are enjoying the benefit of having dual citizenship whilst us we are still not adhering to the changing world. I am holding a British Passport now but whenever I am travelling in Malawi I need to pay US$ 75 for visa to enter to my own country and this pains me greatly,” she lamented.
Banda viewed that even banks are not flexible with us because they even refuse us to open an account in the pretext that we are British passport holders, there by denying us an opportunity to invest back home.
According to an official from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, some of the issues would be addressed since the diaspora policy would be put into use.
She said the issue of dual citizenship is among top issues on the agenda since the Malawian diaspora community have called for it for a number of years now.
Malawi still has no proper record of its citizens living in diaspora in countries like South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Swaziland, Tanzania, Britain, United States, Canada, Australia, China, Japan and other countries.