Bringing Africans back home
By Alfonce Mbizwo, Harare, Zimbabwe
Millions of Africans have left the continent for mainly Europe and the Americas over the past two decades, either in search of better education or opportunities. Very few measures, however, have been taken to entice them to return to their home countries.
Even fewer initiatives have been undertaken to actively reconnect the Africans in the Diaspora with opportunities that exist in the countries they left behind.
Enter Reconnect Africa, a unique website and online magazine designed to provide information on careers and opportunities for African professionals in the Diaspora.
Reconnect Africa and its consultancy arm, Interims for Development, have successfully assisted businesses and organisations across Africa, providing volunteer interim managers for skills and capacity building as well as HR consultancy services and recruitment for those Africans in the Diaspora willing to relocate to their home countries.
Director Dorothy Adebanjo told Biztechafrica: “Reconnect Africa started five years ago in the United Kingdom upon the realization that there was need to reconnect African professionals in the Diaspora with their home countries. It started principally as an HR concept, where we had jobs on the site.”
“We have many local companies that use the site to advertise the available jobs and those professionals respond but then we realized this was more about reconnecting the Diasporas to their home countries and if they wanted to move back or whatever, they can find all the information concerning their home countries on the website.”
The group recently launched Reconnect South Africa and unveiled Reconnect Zimbabwe at the ITC Africa Conference held in Harare early this month.
Africa’s newest member of the oil club, Uganda, merited its own office, which also handles enquiries relating to the Great Lakes region.
The oil discovery in Uganda two years ago has generated a lot of interest for people from that region and companies there are using the site for job advertising, she said.
The London head office handles West Africa because of a large presence of West Africans in the UK.
“We want the professionals to come back to Africa. We did a survey involving 15 000 professionals in the Diaspora and from the results it was obvious that most want to come back to Africa between two and six year from now and they want to keep up to date with developments in their home countries,” Adebanjo said.
In Zimbabwe, despite struggling economically, the advent of an inclusive government with long-time foes, President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, has brought relative stability and many who left the country at the height of the economic collapse and political upheaval are considering a return.
“From what have seen so far, there is huge interest, particularly in the banking sector, the ICT and the mining sectors. Zimbabwe is key to the success of this project, so is Kenya and Uganda.”
Adebanjo said more than 15 000 overseas-based African professionals have signed up to the while the site attracts visitors from 96 countries from all over the world, excluding Africa.
“There is more interest from the Americas. From the response we have had so far people are realizing the potential of Africa and several local companies are looking to partner with us to bring African professionals back home.”