By BEREKET DIRIBA, Correspondent JULY 12, 2015
ADAMA — Ethiopia is looking forward to welcome a huge crowd of its diaspora this coming August for a newly marked Diaspora Day Festival.
Over three thousand diaspora members are expected to participate in the celebration, which is the first of its kind in the country and is set to take place on August 16.
“We are looking to foster the Diaspora’s relation with their homeland and show the new opportunities at home. Their contribution to the nation’s development is immense,” said Dewano Kedir, the State Minister with the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Kedir said registrations for the event are taking place in the Ethiopian diplomatic missions and embassies throughout the world.
Ahead of the National Diaspora Day, a similar festival will take place in Oromia region from August 4 to 10.
The Head of the Oromia Region Diaspora Affairs Directorate and the Secretary of the Oromia Diaspora Festival, Tesfaye Abebe said the regional government is expecting the diaspora to be part of the occasion. Registration is taking place in the newly built and inaugurated Oromo Cultural Center, located in the heart of the capital Addis Ababa. This is on top of the registrations taking place in Ethiopian embassies and diplomatic missions overseas.
“We have planned major events for the week-long diaspora festival at Oromia level. A welcoming ceremony at the Oromo Cultural Center in Addis; tours to different parts of the region; and exhibitions and sport festivals are among them. Discussion forums between the diasporas and high-ranking officials will also be held,” Abebe said.
Nekemte, Jimma, Ambo, Shashemane, Assela and Hararge are the main destinations for regional tours.
The regional tours aim to raise the Diasporas’ awareness of the development activities and business opportunities within the region.
The regional government also disclosed its plan to grant land to diaspora members for housing.
The diasporas are expected to organize themselves into 12 to 24 housing associations and they must prove that there are no other houses registered in their name to become eligible for the diaspora housing opportunity.
The regional government indicated Ethiopian overseas can access land through land lease and real estate programs as well.
Ethiopian diasporas returning home often complain about the bureaucracy and the inefficiency of government institutions. According to some, such hurdles forced them to incur additional costs and delays to their projects.
The government vows to improve its institutions and curb the problems observed in governance. For now however, it is calling for more diasporas to visit their homeland and study the opportunities available.