LIBERIAN DIASPORA CONTRIBUTION TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF LIBERIA
On general manner, “the Diaspora consists of peoples of African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent.”
Following the Coup d’Etat of Samuel DOE (12 Avril 1980), weakened national institutions and skilled professionals and ordinary citizens drove out to save their lives. The exode of Liberians has started. After the beginning of the civil war(1990-2003), poor political, social and economic environment has exacerbated the brain drain. The emigration of Liberians has fueled institutional weaknesses and state failure.
The Diaspora should be considered not just as sources of financing, but as development partners. The Diaspora transfers remained a significant source of income during the country‟s civil war. In Post-conflict, the transfers play an important role in recovery and reconstruction of fragile states. Liberian Diaspora inject much needed financial and material resources where they are required most, where donor activities, much concentrated on national governments and the formal sector are not able to reach effectively. Official remittances (many go through unmonitored money transfer channels) are larger than all foreign aid combined.
The Diaspora remittances in South countries are three times as large as aggregate foreign aid and larger than export proceeds. Yet, this pecuniary flood is mostly used to finance the consumption of basics: staple foods, shelter, maintenance, clothing. It is non-productive capital. Money tends to be spent on immediate, basic needs – food for the family, children’s school fees – rather than invested or saved.
World Bank and the Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) show that remittances from Liberians in the Diaspora account for the largest percentage of Liberia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) than any country in Sub-Saharan Africa: remittances to Liberia grew from US$360 million in 2011 to US$549 million in 2016, representing 27 percent of Liberia’s GDP.
But, in the long run, the influence and impact of the social capital that the Diaspora transfers will be more enduring than that of their financial remittances : in Liberia, the lack of development and economic growth is not due to the absence of exploitable resources, but is a consequence of weak social and political institutions. The active participation of experienced and highly qualified Liberians from the Diaspora in the democracy building processes could indeed contribute to political transformation in Liberia.
In the country, more than 50 percent of the trained professionals have migrated and remain abroad. The Liberian Diaspora in Europe works to invest their social capital in democracy building and in strengthening governing institutions and policy-making apparatus.
Liberian Diaspora in Europe occupy a vital strategic position that links Europe with Liberia in a more connected manner. EFLA is committed to work and sustain the Governments of Liberia:
- on a shared national development agenda around which to mobilize European Diaspora resources;
- to create an enabling environment to a successful Diaspora engagement;
- to strengthen the links of Liberia with the Liberian Diaspora, but primarily the interaction of the Liberians inside and outside the borders of motherland to a new foundation, functional, modern and effective;
- to encourage expatriates to share their skills with their counterparts in Liberia;
- to encourage the diaspora to invest in small and medium-size businesses, rather than just send money to family and friends;
- to stimulate bilateral donors (Diaspora host countries) in Diaspora return initiatives and international development issues.
Despide international support, Liberia faces severe financing gaps for development, remittances by Liberian Diaspora have become as significant as official development assistance. Liberian Diaspora remittances can generate multiplier effects, which may lay the foundation for more sustainable poverty reduction, provided these flows are large and long-lasting, and other conditions are conducive to development. recipients of remittances in Africa were found to have higher levels of education, are more likely to have some form of savings account and a higher level of savings than those who were not receiving money from abroad.
Easterly, W., & Nyarko, Y. (2008). Is the brain drain good for Africa? Global Economy and Development
The Liberian Diaspora is a vital allies in the reconstruction, modernization and nation building.
The positive rapprochement between the President WEAH governments and the Diaspora has transformed the context of the old political landscape for the better. It has opened up a widow of opportunity for effective cooperation between the two entities. The Diaspora due to their exposure to democratic political practices is able to introduce new ways of dealing with political challenges in Liberia.
Liberian Diaspora is in a strategic position to facilitate the process of trans-national activities and networks and to act as development bridge-builder between the West and Liberia.