As we embark on an exploration to appreciate and empower African immigrants, we wanted to take a moment to explain why we named our initiative Neo African Diaspora. You may already know that “neo” means new and you may have guessed what the term refers to. You may have heard it used before. For us, Neo African Diaspora is more than just a buzzword, we use it to emphasize a crucial characteristic of the population we focus on.
The African Union (AU) defines the African diaspora as consisting “of people of native African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union”. This definition, while quite inclusive, risks masking the heterogeneity within the African diaspora.
The term Neo African Diaspora is coined from a recognition of an emerging class of African diaspora made up of the growing population of immigrants settling in Western countries. In the past two decades, the share of African migration to countries within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has increased from about 7.2 million in 2001 to about 12.5 million in 2016. Among the leading destinations for African immigrants has been North America. In the US for example, the population of African immigrants more than doubled, from 574,000 to 1.6 million between 2000 and 2016. Africans now make up 39% of the overall foreign-born black population, up from 24% in 2000. According to Statistics Canada, African-born individuals comprised 13.4% of recent immigrants to Canada as of 2016.
As the population of African immigrants continues to grow, so has their influence. Across different spheres, African immigrants and their offspring are having a tremendously positive impact on society. In politics, high profile individuals such as US Congressional Representative Ilhan Omar from Minnesota, Colorado’s Representative Joe Neguse, and Colorado State Representative Naquetta Ricks, are putting African immigrants on the map. Beyond the US, elected politicians like Ibrahim Omer in New Zealand, Pierre Kompany in Belgium, and Awet Tesfaiesus in Germany are pioneering the trend across the Western world. And it’s not just in politics, African immigrants are shaping society and culture in sports, film, and entertainment and as innovators across academia and industry throughout the West. While celebrities may only represent a sliver of trends across the wider group, African immigrants in Western countries still maintain an impressive profile.
“… black immigrants from Africa are more likely than Americans overall to have a college degree or higher.“Pew Research Center
A report by the New American Economy illustrates the growing influence of African immigrants in the US economy. Immigrants from Sub-Saharan Africa naturalize at high rates, they attain higher levels of education than the overall U.S. population as a whole and are more likely to have earned their degree in a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, or STEM, field. They also make meaningful contributions to several vital sectors of the economy including healthcare while also creating innumerable jobs as entrepreneurs. Immigrants from five countries – Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, and South Africa – account for over half of the Sub-Saharan Africans living in the United States.
On this forum, we believe in the growing power of African immigrants both in the countries where they have settled and in their countries of origin. As transnationals, African immigrants make significant contributions to their motherland through remittances and other forms of non-monetary linkages. As their profile rises, there is an invaluable opportunity to script their journey, preserve their heritage and celebrate their achievements and contributions. Focusing specifically on the neo-African diaspora—a group we are representative of—also allows us to examine the factors and trends that affect our wellbeing. By doing so, we hope to influence policy, business practice, and societal norms to elevate the voice and plight of current and future generations of Neo-African diasporans.
On this forum, we believe in the growing power of African immigrants both in the countries where they have settled and in their countries of origin.Neo African Diaspora
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