The UNDP held a webinar to discuss policies, strategies, and institutional arrangements to boost remittances in a time of crisis. My opening remarks at the webinar was a theme taken from the poet Maya Angelo. Below are excerpts from my brief remarks to the UNDP seminar delegates.
. . . I will speak about the Dream, the Hope, and the Rise of our united future. Let me start with a quote from the late Maya Angelou, “Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise. I rise. I rise.
Many of you will engage in conversations today on the what and how of declining remittances. I want to start with the why. The why is that many in the Diaspora are facing the same plight of compression of the middle class – globally technology is creating new opportunities but many will need to change the way we work to engage opportunities of the future.
My great-grandmother was blind, and she could not read or write, but she had a vision – vision / and an entrepreneurial mindset that one day she would move her family from a small Caribbean island to America where her children and her children’s children could be educated. I stand before you as the first person in my family to hold any college degree. I was the first but not the last – all my siblings – we are an even half dozen, now hold college degrees.
Colleagues we are the Dreams of our ancestors – we cannot accept the future as written; we must find ways to re-think, re-engineer, re-shape a future that will be sustainable for all—but most importantly – the underserved – globally.
We must prepare to answer the tough questions . . .
Finally out of the shadows of a global pandemic we must be willing to change for in change we will re-shape a future…. that has never existed for us. We must not go back to normal. We must hope for a better future.
What is the hope?
The hope is in the future of work and entrepreneurship. There is much creativity, ingenuity, and innovation among us . We can leapfrog and create or mine opportunities where none existed before by collaborating together and with others. The simple fact is that if we create more opportunity by becoming more agile and solving more complex problems there is greater opportunity to increase remittances. This means that the Diaspora and African institutions need to re-skill and retool our people at faster rates of change than we have known in our history.
We are on the Rise.
Last year a group of like-minded individuals met at the inaugural international summit on Africa and the global Africa Diaspora at the UN. That same group met again virtually in September.
A synergistic commitment to changing the narrative – from one of poverty and despair to one of innovation, opportunity, and growth was made. We started with education.
It was the visionary Nelson Mandela that said, “education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world. “
As we work together today on the challenges of remittances, we are on the rise my friends.
We end much as we started with a dream, and hope, for Africa that can no longer be deferred. We must rise – the way forward and the future is ours — together.