Former president Thabo Mbeki has stressed the importance of bringing the skilled African diaspora home, saying everyone deserves to feel at home in Africa
Mbeki was the keynote speaker at Homecoming Revolution’s Speed Meet Jozi event which took place in Johannesburg at the Hilton Sandton on 14 August.
In association with Brand South Africa, the event brought together African trailblazers from across the continent in an effort to promote intra-African networking and connect skilled Africans with leading employers.
Top brands included Accenture, Barloworld, BAT, CSCS, Deloitte, Engen and Pam Golding Properties.
Other speakers at the event included four inspirational African homecomers: South African Edward Ndopu, Kenyan Hazel Ojany, Nigerian Emmanuel Essien and Ghanaian Samuel Mensah.
Iconic South African singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka wowed the audience with an impromptu performance and the #SpeedMeetJozi was trending on Twitter across the country on Friday afternoon.
Attendees included representatives from the Ghanaian, Kenyan and Nigerian diplomatic corps, global media, Dr Tshepo Motsepe (the wife of the deputy president), Kevin Malunga (Deputy Public Protector), Ninel Musson (African Leadership Network Director), Paul Harris (First Rand), Frank Aswani (Vice President of the African Leadership Academy), Moky Makura (Nigerian media personality ) and Nikiwe Bikitsha (radio and TV personality).
Former president Mbeki said it’s impossible for the continent to move forward without the trained and skilled thousands in the diaspora.
“The numbers of skilled people and professionals our continent has lost over the decades are truly frightening,” he said.
He stressed the need for governments to put in place the necessary incentives to encourage the homecoming including visas and work permits, as well as addressing issues such as dual citizenship.
Homecoming Revolution CEO Angel Jones echoed the former president’s sentiments saying, it’s really time that there is a significant wave of Africans returning to the continent.”
Jones, who released a report on African migration patterns at the event entitled The Homecoming Insights Report 2015, said 53% of Africans abroad want to come home.
“The main reasons people want to return home are friends & family, sense of belonging and culture,” said Jones.
Another key finding was that most respondents (45%) said they left the continent to pursue career opportunities. A large portion left to pursue travel experiences (20%), while 16% left due to the political and economic situation in their respective countries and 13% left due to crime and safety concerns. The remaining 11% left to study abroad.
At the same time, Brand South Africa’s Thebe Ikalafeng said the future lies in Africa.
“Europe has the past but Africa has the future.”
While, homecomer Eddie Ndopu, who currently heads Amnesty International’s Youth Engagement Programme for Africa, said to be a homecomer one has to be a champion of resilience
“My jobs is to ensure young Africans take social injustice personally. Africa cannot possibly rise without Africans rising as well.”
He said he’s back in Africa because he wants to change the way society views young people and young people with disabilities.
“There is no better place to be young gifted and African!”
Isaac Kamuta, Managing Director, Head – Cash Management, Sub-Sahara Africa at Citigroup South Africa, said “It was a wonderful event, I learnt a lot.”
Shaori Ajodha, Talent Acquisition Recruitment Leader at Deloitte says, “We met many fantastic candidates. Angel and her team play an important role in bringing Africans home.”
Mbeki concluded his keynote address by saying everyone needs to play their part to help bring back the African diaspora.
“It is in our collective interest, regardless of our particular occupations, to join hands with the Homecoming Revolution to help bring back to Africa the intellectual and professional capital that is fundamental to the achievement of the African renaissance towards which all of us aspire.”
Homecoming Revolution is hosting another Speed Meet event in New York on 25 September in Times Square.