Some countries allow their citizens to vote abroad for presidential and legislative elections. Some countries give nationals abroad voting rights, and some reserve specific number of seats in parliament for Diaspora representatives. In addition, some African countries that confer voting rights on their Diasporas, require advanced registration or allow voting in person only. In other countries, voting by postal ballot is also possible.
Those who permanently live abroad can register with an embassy or consulate in the country of their permanent residence and can vote there. But the costs involved in registration may be high. For example, South Africa approved voting rights for Global South Africans in , but was unable to register voters in most foreign countries for the elections. Only some 16, voters out of the estimated 1. Similarly, members of the Nigerian Diaspora requested the Independent National Electoral Commission to register Nigerians abroad so they could participate in the elections. Rwanda provides a useful example of an effort to engage the Diaspora through reaching out and encouraging voting by foreign citizens.
Some governments have established institutions such as councils or decentralized entities that handle migrant community issues. However, several of these initiatives have not maintained their momentum or have been discontinued with a change of government. As members of the Diaspora today in the world come from very differentiated backgrounds, and emigrated for various reasons, their relations and contributions to host societies are as well very diverse.
The interaction between both also depends on the country of destination, as some nations are more creole than others. In the Caribbean nations for instance, such as in Jamaica, Haiti or Cuba, the community of African descent had a huge impact on the culture of the country, as migrations were very important in terms of numbers but also very influential in the cultural sphere[xviii].
In any case, the presence of an important African Diaspora in a given place creates opportunities for cultural exchanges between members of the different nations. National policies aimed at strengthening Diasporas are more and more put into place, notably through the action of embassies abroad.
In fact, they are often the place where different nationals from a community gather, for instance during special events organized by the embassies themselves, in the perspective of enhancing the feeling of belonging to a national community[xix]. The integration of Diasporas within the framework of foreign policies, encompassed in the scope of the action of embassies, indicates the growing interest of public authorities for this group of citizens living abroad. It also contributes to promoting African cultures and nations, which are not always understood in the western world. Originally, members of the Diaspora started organizing themselves and constituting associations in order to facilitate the integration of new migrants in the societies of destination.
They are still of great help as of today on this matter, but they are also very much oriented towards keeping the connection alive between members of the Diaspora and their homeland, and towards contributing to the development of their country of origin, which they often leave because of deplorable living conditions. Due to the different nature of the migrations[xx], the idea of returning to their homeland, which used to be very present for members of older generations of diaspora, is not as strong any more.
Installed, and often well integrated in host societies, members of the diaspora often do not want to go back to their motherland to live once they retire, as the situation in their countries would not allow them to enjoy a decent life. In many cases, throughout the year, the choice is made to settle definitively in the North.
The impact of Diasporas as a phenomenon is also to be seen on the second generation of migrants. Generally speaking, children of African migrants, born in Europe, tend to emphasis the European part of their identity over their African origin, while still feeling attached to Africa and claiming to be of part of the African people. One of the questions remaining is whether or not to include migrants within the African continent. The African Union chooses not to, as it states in its definition of the diaspora that it must necessarily be located outside of the continent[xxiii].
One of the grounds for this is that Africans who emigrate outside of Africa, mostly in the Northern hemisphere, are often wealthier, better-educated and more organized as Africans migrating within the continent, and have therefore more means of contributing to their home country development, thereby better fitting the second part of the definition of the African Union[xxiv].
This idea also stems from the fact that, for a very long time, migration movements have been analysed mostly as being a stream from the South to the North, while other geographically located migrations did not seem as relevant to social scientists. However, South-South migrations are more important numerically, and continue to grow in importance and in volume, therefore drawing more and more academic and research attention.
This is true as well for Intra-African migrations. If this phenomenon is to be differentiated from Diasporas living outside of the continent, it nevertheless plays a rather important role in the development of their country of origin. Intra-African migrations are not a new phenomenon. Long-lasting forms of mobility have existed in the continent, such as nomadism, or travels along commercial routes.
As of today, the total number of is African migrants is estimated to be around Intra-African migrations tend to be more developmental in nature, almost always related to the search of better opportunities in neighbouring countries. This type of migration, being closer geographically speaking, allows for the subsistence of stronger ties between the migrant and his home country, in terms of cultural bonds as well as in terms of economic contribution to development.
The diaspora within the African continent also tends to maintain rather close relations with the diaspora outside of the continent. In conclusion, the African Diaspora within Africa is not to be ignored, as over half of the African migrants circulate within the continent. If there are differences in nature between the diaspora outside of the continent, mostly in the northern hemisphere, and the diaspora within Africa, both contribute greatly to the development of their countries of origin and destination.
As of today however, the African Diaspora within Africa has not been targeted specifically by policy initiatives of the African Union that focused only on diaspora that comes from outside the continent. The African Diaspora, which can be found all over the world, comes from three major waves of migration: historic, related to de-colonization process, and the current diaspora motivated by socio-economic and political situation of African countries[i].
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The African Union Summit in was dedicated to the discussion on the impact and the role of the African diaspora. The AU decided to start a new chapter in its activity by involving the millions of Africans living outside the continent into the African integration and development process. Moreover, it refers to the concept of one, united and projected Africa that is not divided among nation-states.
Therefore, the definition includes mainly the historic diaspora that is attached to the entity of Africa rather than referring to specific countries such as Rwanda, Sudan or Egypt. The program is intended to promote, finance and facilitate a better exchange between diaspora organizations and local African associations. Nevertheless, when talking about the presence of an African Diaspora in Asia, we have to distinguish two waves of migration: African slaves deported to the Indian Ocean World between the 15th and the 19th century and Africans who came to work and invest in Asia in more recent years.
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Campbell[viii], this first wave of African migrations constituted by slaves deported by the Portuguese 15thth centuries and then by the British 17thth century cannot be called a Diaspora because there was not a diasporic consciousness among this group. Two main reasons can explain this statement. First, African-Asian slaves wanted to forget the role of fellow Africans, especially kings, who sold and enslaved their own kind. Consequently, only the second African migration wave lead to the constitution of an African Diaspora in Asia.
As a matter, even if there is less awareness of an African presence in Asian countries than for example in European countries, there is an African Diaspora living in Asia. This Diaspora is mostly constituted by the African migration wave, which started in the s and which still continues, and is mostly located in China.
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According to S. Van Sant[x], the African Diaspora in China would is of about This last group of African is the largest one. The implementation of the African Diaspora in Asia is not only economic but also academic. This program is the first of this kind in Hong Kong and Southern China. To sum up, the African Diaspora in Asia is not the most important of the world in terms of number, but it is for sure one of the most dynamic, and because of the increase of African migrations to Asia, this diaspora would gain more relevance.
In the ss, new technologies of information and communication NTIC emerged, and their use is today widely spread all over the world, at various degrees. New media, such as Internet, have been adopted by many migrants, and have greatly contributed to the formation and consolidation of diasporas all over the world, enhancing opportunities for citizens to take an active part in public space. Websites are particularly numerous, and can be related to different themes, or linked to specific countries, or even tribes. There are however, many websites dedicated to Africa as a whole, aiming at providing with information and platform regarding the entire continent[xv].
For members of the diasporas, Internet and new media fulfill some essential functions[xvi]. First of all, they are major channels of information, to stay connected with what is happening in the countries of origin. The development of Cyber press in the past decade allows for a much easier access to information regarding news and trends in Africa, and is now the first channel of information for most of diaspora members.
Internet therefore, allows for greater connections between the diaspora and its country or land of origin. However, it also goes the other way around, and Internet, notably through discussion platforms and forum, provides for a true space of free exchanges between citizens, thereby contributing to the formation and consolidation of a virtual transnational civil society[xviii].
This aspect is not to be neglected, as it favors democratic speaking in countries in which freedom of press and of expression is not necessarily granted. In Mauritania for instance, Internet backs the emergence of a virtual democracy that goes beyond the state monopoly in media, and the press censorship[xix], which is mostly the doing of members of diaspora, who can provide with alternative sources of information. Through participation in Internet forum or discussion platforms, members of diasporas can take part in the political debate, and be involved in African public life[xx].
As part of contribution to fueling democratic debate about African issues, new media also gives a voice to those who do not necessarily have the means of being heard within their own country, for instance in the case of exile related to political persecutions. The Internet thereby, allows for a reshaping of the way nationals perceive and exercise their role as citizens.
In fact, they can take a more proactive part in the debates, events and trends that are discussed within their homeland. In this sense, the use of Internet participates in the maintenance of the link with the motherland, and with the citizens of the country who stayed.
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Internet, as a global tool, is also a way of bringing closer members of a diaspora which are situated in different parts of the world, thereby contributing to the emergence of a transnational community, dispersed but linked, at the same time, to the place of origin. Movements and exchanges within the members of diasporas situated in different places of the world are thereby enhanced, contributing to the consolidation of the feeling of belonging to a common culture and history, pursuing similar interests.
Internet greatly participates in the construction of the group identity, shaping the ways that individuals articulate their experiences of uprooting with the necessity of local integration within the host country, while upholding features of their identities. Through these various functions and mechanisms, the increased use of Internet has greatly contributed to the mobilization of diasporic communities, towards their home countries as well as amongst their own members.
Through greatly facilitating the conservation of strong links and ties, both from the diaspora to Africa and within diaspora members, Internet has largely contributed to the formation of a coherent African diaspora, with all of the characteristics that are contained in the definition. It also contributed to expand the diaspora on a global level, as before the rise of internet, African communities gathered on a more local scale, with the creation of social link within locally based associations.
The movement of populations from Africa was always a response to political, social, religious, and economical or other related factors. After the colonial era, the motivations for these movements changed. The effects of colonization and decolonization always had an impact, directly or indirectly, on the economy, thus having a strong influence in migration. According to a survey by the United Nations, African governments have considered migration as the most important population phenomenon, setting aside fertility and morality.
Nowadays there is a strong response to migration by students. Students are looking for an improvement in their education. Therefore, they migrate to where they know they will have support.