An IOM workshop on the Mobilization and Utilization of Diaspora Skills and Remittances for the Development of Ethiopia took place in Addis Ababa on Wednesday.
The workshop, sponsored by the Italian Government, focused on the presentation of an IOM research report: Skills Inventory and Remittance Flows in Ethiopia and the launch of a website: Mobilizing Ethiopians Living Abroad for the Development of Ethiopia (www.ethiopiandiaspora.info). The site will be used to disseminate information to Ethiopians living abroad and to collect data on Ethiopians wishing to participate in the development of their country of origin.
Participants from the Ethiopian government, donors, UN agencies, the private sector, civil society and the media discussed the supply and demand of technical skills in Ethiopia's priority sectors; key issues and challenges relating to remittance flows into the country; and ways to maximize the impact of the diaspora skills and remittances in the country's economic development process.
"Ethiopia will develop properly only if the current government implements economic program by inviting and using the skilled Ethiopians from all over the world. Unless this is done there can not be any substantial development in the country!"
Kitaw Ejigu, Ph. D
Ethiopia ranks first among African nations, ahead of Nigeria and Ghana, as a country that losses medical and other professionals. In 1996 roughly half of all Ethiopian immigrants in the US were employed in a professional or technical capacity.
Over the past 10 to 15 years about 50% of Ethiopians who went abroad for training did not return after completing their studies. Between 1980-91, of 22,700 who went abroad, only 5,777 returned.
Between 1980 and 1991, Ethiopia lost about 74.6% of its human capital from various institutions. In the health sector, the 38th Annual Medical Association Meeting of 2002 was told that more than a third of Ethiopia's doctors left during the period, mainly to the US and Western Europe.
The workshop is part of IOM's capacity building strategy "Migration for Development in Africa" (MIDA), which seeks to contribute to the socio-economic development of Ethiopia through the mobilization of skills, financial and other resources of the Ethiopian diaspora in order to help reduce poverty and strengthen the technical and institutional capacities of the public and private sectors.
MIDA is a demand-driven capacity building programme, targeting the skills, which are lacking or are in high demand in the various sectors of the Ethiopian economy. In this regard, MIDA is consistent with the objectives of the Ethiopian Government's Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction Paper (SDPRP).
The innovative element of IOM's MIDA programme is the use of technology to permit the transfer of skills of Ethiopians in the diaspora without necessarily requiring the permanent relocation of individuals.