Friday, May 14, 2010

Are you thinking of relocating?

Young African Professionals networking evenings are held every month in Washington DC area and the event attracts over 50-100 professionals interested in Africa. The theme for the April 30th event was "Home Sweet Home: How to successfully relocate to Africa". The evening was meant to address the many concerns of young Africans in Diaspora. 

To lead the invigorating discussion, three panelists were invited from different fields- Mrs. Edith Haizel, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Ghana, and former member of Parliament; Mr Julius Kliza, University Lecturer, Makerere University, Uganda; and Alban Bagbin, Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, Ghana.

Speaking from a University Lecturer’s perspective, Kliza said there were many factors pulling and pushing young professionals from home. He however encouraged youths to remember that there was no place like home. "Your countries and families need you and your ideas" he said.

The panelists admitted that things back home in African were not as rosy as they would have loved it to be. Among others they noted that roads are not good. No good electricity and ATM machines are not reliable. All these challenges are enough to discourage anyone from relocating. 

To avoid frustration, the speakers suggested, "relocation strategies".

"Before relocating, identify someone to entrust your wealth or ideas" Africans in diaspora were advised. This person will be very helpful in helping you integrate into the society eventually.
Take out sometime to test the waters. If you can, carry out some local projects in order to be able to understand how the system works. The panelist noted that you must not relocate because of people’s pressure. "Make sure you are ready". Meanwhile, relocating can also be a simple decision to invest in the country. "Look for innovative fields, do not join the bandwagon" said the Ugandan.

Bagbin, Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing Ghana, reaffirmed the urgent need for young talents to return home and invest in their countries. However he said even after relocating, it is important to keep in touch with Diaspora. "Africa is said to be the future of the world, not because of natural resources but because of knowledge- brain gain".

Bagbin noted that you could make a difference wherever you are. "If you think of Africa’s development, then you can make a difference" he said. And urged everyone to embrace the 3 C’s of leadership- Character, Care and Competence.

photo credit: Getty Image-- 1. Zoran Milic. 2. Bria Blake

No comments: