Diaspora and Development: Building Transnational Partnerships in the Great Lakes Region

Author Name

Niringiyimana Julius

Author Address

Assistant Lecturer & PhD Candidate [email protected] Department of Political science and Public Administration, Makerere University Kampala, Uganda


Diaspora, Development, Transnational, Partnerships, Great Lakes Region, Uganda, Rwanda, DR Congo.


The theoretical and empirical contradiction between the role of diaspora groups in promoting social-economic and political development of the great lakes region (Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo) and the actual recognition of these roles and achievements in development discourse motivates this study. Analyzing diaspora and development with an emphasis on building transnational partnerships in the great lakes region, this paper attempts to explain this theoretical and empirical puzzle. That is, if the contributions of diaspora to development have been increasingly acknowledged in the past decades and such contributions are not unknown to policy practitioners and researchers alike, why have they received less recognition in the great lakes region? Using key informant interviews and in-depth interviews, the findings reveal that diasporas are important agencies in promoting development and building transnational partnerships not only in the great lakes region but also in Africa at large.  Diaspora groups get involved in sending remittances to family members and other social relations in their country of origin, which have been identified as an important source of external capital for these countries. Using their own initiatives, they have also engaged and invested in community projects in their country of origin. However, findings also reveal that diaspora groups are no guiding national policies in some countries to guide the diaspora groups in engaging themselves in national development of their countries of origin. Hence, it is not always clear to both the governments and other development actors how they can best engage with diaspora groups. This study concludes that while diaspora groups are important agencies in promoting development efforts and building transnational partnerships, they need a national policy that streamlines the needs of the diaspora to help the country’s needs. This would in turn strengthen their relationships with diaspora and harness their efforts to development. 


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