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Successful 1st Diaspora NRW Conference took place in Dortmund

On the Whitsun weekend (03 and 04 June 2017), the first German-African Diaspora Conference took place in Dortmund. More than 120 participants with different migration backgrounds found their way to the International

Centre of Encounter. Meeting Centre on the campus of the Technical University to attend the conference. Guests had also travelled from abroad. The thematic framework of the conference was the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the UN Decade for People of African Descent. Within this context, development policy issues were discussed that are particularly relevant for African countries.
As it would have been impossible to address the 17 goals in two days, the conference set a focus on 4 goals. These were: SDG 4 Education, SDG 10 Reduce inequalities, SDG 16 Peace and security and SDG 17 Partnerships to achieve the goals. The main questions addressed during the two days were: How can sustainable partnerships between countries in the Global North and countries in the Global South be created? Where do partnerships between African countries also make sense? And: What role can the diaspora play in achieving the goals together?

The two-day conference was opened by Dr Ümit Kosan, Managing Director VMDO (Verbund der sozial-kulturellen Migrantenvereine in Dortmund e.V.). Afterwards, the First Secretary of the Embassy of Uganda, Ms Margaret Otteskor, addressed the visitors, emphasising the contribution of the diaspora to development in the home countries.

The remittances they send back to family members in their home countries alone contribute a considerable part to the GDP. She also spoke about the role model that well-educated migrants can play for their countries of origin. Then there were several inputs and presentations on topics relevant to the discourse

. Why is Africa still so far behind in many areas? What historical reasons are partly responsible for the continent's current plight? In his lecture "Black is the Ocean", One World promoter Serge Palasie gave a brief overview of the slave trade and the involuntary migration of millions of people. A poster exhibition with the same title was on display on both days of the conference. The bridge from the time of the slave trade to the present day was built by Elizabeth Kaneza in her presentation in which she explained the background of the UN Decade for People of African Descent and why this Decade is important to draw attention to the living realities of People of Colour. Dr Medard Kabanda briefly introduced the SDGs

. After a lunch break with excellent food, Liza Sekaggya Essaga, Human Rights Officer at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights UNHCHR, explained the functions of the Commissioner's Office in relation to the SDGs. Ms. Sekaggya Essaga focused in particular on the situation in African countries. Many people flee Africa and seek their fortune in Germany. Joel Zombou from the Coordination Office for Refugees in the Unna District spoke about the situation of African refugees in NRW and especially in Dortmund. There are many reasons why people flee or migrate from Africa. One reason is climate change, which leads to desertification and flooding, forcing people to leave their villages. John Takang from the Environmental Governance Institute was connected via Skype from Cameroon to present his talk on the impacts of climate change. From Uganda, on the other hand, several representatives were able to travel in person to provide insights primarily into the topics of "peace and security" (SDG 16) from a Southern perspective. Apart from climate, many factors play a role.

On this topic, Okello Makmot, responsible for countering extremism at the ministry, and Moses Binoga, responsible for combating human trafficking, gave a detailed overview. The lack of educational opportunities and job prospects also endanger peace and security and lead to people migrating, being forced to flee, acting as traffickers or becoming radicalised. Therefore, it is important to develop measures against this and to show alternatives, they emphasised. Examples of practice. Afterwards, the topics from the presentations were deepened in workshops on the four SDGs mentioned above. Expert promoter Tina Adomako led the workshop "SDG4 - Quality Education". After an input on the current state of education in Sub-Saharan Africa, the participants discussed the reasons for the education crisis and looked for solutions. All agreed that education programmes in many sub-Saharan countries do not meet the needs of society. Many see a practice-oriented education, similar to the German dual education system, as a development opportunity for African countries.

"Work together and avoid disputes among yourselves," Amanda Magambo of NCIP (Northern Corridor Integration Projects) appealed to the diaspora at the end of the event. "Effective partnerships can only happen with strong organisations. When several associations join forces, they can achieve much more than many small associations doing something individually," Magambo said.

In conclusion, the guests from Uganda and Rwanda invited the diaspora to share their know-how and expertise with their home countries or countries of origin.

During the two days, so many ideas emerged that the participants discussed them intensively for a long time. The need for exchange and networking was so great that the conference did not end until well after 16:00 on the second day instead of at 14:30 as scheduled. This can certainly be considered a success. Now it remains to be seen which ideas will be concretely addressed and implemented in order to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The conference was jointly organised by several organisations. These include VMDO e.V.; VKII, the Association of Cameroonian Engineers and Computer Scientists e.V.; Edda Africa e.V.; Culture pour Tous e.V.; the Association of Young German-Africans e.V.. , AleviDo e.V., as well as the Eine Welt Netz NRW.

Last but not least, the excellent catering should also be mentioned and praised at this point. As Virgina Woolf once said, you can't think (work) well if you haven't eaten well... (ado)


Documentation as a PDF