Many African countries are now “emigrant states” that have citizens or nationals—most of whom keep ties with the homeland—spread across the world and within the continent. African governments have come to realize the significance of this growing population of transnationals and have moved to structure the diaspora’s long-distant social, political and economic obligations to the homeland. This has been done through the creation of ministries that represent diasporic interests, extended electoral rights to the diaspora, and the aggregation of remittances for public projects.
The diaspora itself has taken advantage of its relationship with the homeland to assert its power and influence through what can be labeled as “Diasporic Lobbying.” Diasporic lobbying can take two forms:
1) Diasporic lobbying in the host country to influence the host country’s foreign policy towards the homeland.The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, founded in 1980, is an example of a diaspora lobby, which advocates for an American foreign policy in the Middle East that promotes justice and peace in the region.
2) Diasporic lobbying that seeks to directly influence the public officials in the homeland.This form of lobbying, though understudied, has become a significant phenomenon. Diasporic lobbying of this form is usually done when the homeland is in crisis. The 2012 Presidential Election season in Senegal, was the most controversial and violent in the nation’s democratic history. The current president at the time, 85-year-old Abdoulaye Wade, had proposed constitutional changes that would have ensured his victory. Senegalese people took to the streets to protest and Senegalese diasporic communities around the world lobbied the government to take actions that would avoid democratic fallback.
Unfortunately, scholarly literature that links the diaspora with democratization processes or development is limited. However, there are many policy papers that provide normative connections between the diaspora and development. The common argument across many policy papers—which are often written by large international organizations like the World Bank and the International Organization of Migration—is that the diaspora has the capacity to “develop” their homeland. And democratization is assumed to be an outcome of that development. The “migration-development nexus” is worth mention here. In 2002, the phrase “migration-development nexus” was launched in a special issue of International Migration edited by Sørensen et al. The phrase was little used before this publication. The concept argues that migration and development are linked in many ways –through remittances, investments and advocacy by migrants, refugees, diasporas and their transnational communities. A decade after Sørensen et al., Vammen and Brønden encouraged other authors to revisit the theme in another special issue of the same journal. Since then, academics have churned out books, articles and innumerable papers on the links between migration and development. New institutions sprung up such as the EC-UN Joint Migration and Development Initiative and the Global Forum on Migration and Development, which sponsored research on the topic.
Adamson argues that contemporary diasporas in general are “defined by a national or cultural identity, yet differ from nation-states in terms of their organizational and spatial logics.” By comparing diaspora mobilization in two cases, Adamson also finds that both NGOs and state elites are using “diasporic practices of identity formation as a means of generating economic and political support in an increasingly integrated global economy.” Many scholars instead have seen members of diasporic communities as “transnational communities” and diasporic communities as “transnational organizations.” Thus, the African diasporas are increasingly becoming a significant actor in international relations and international development even though they are not nation states.
Social research on this topic is significant because it explores the dimensions of diaspora-homeland transnationalism, namely the diaspora’s influence in the political development of the homeland, a topic that has solely gained relevance in international development policy research. Policymakers—regardless of where they are in the world—must now consider diasporas when making economic and political policies, particularly policies related to the sustainable development of the nation. However, inadequate data and understanding of the diasporas, especially those from the African continent, hinder efforts to increase the contributions diasporas can make to their homelands. My research and others like it would help those in the global community that are interested in harnessing diaspora political and social capital. My research paper on the topic will be published in May of 2016.
 N. Sørensen, and Nicholas Van Hear. The Migration-development Nexus: Evidence and Policy Options : State of the Art Overview. Geneva, Switzerland: International Organization for Migration, 2002. Print.
 I. Vammen, and Birgitte Mossin Brønden. “Donor-Country Responses to the Migration-Development Buzz: From Ambiguous Concepts to Ambitious Policies?” International Migration: 26-42. Print.
 I. Vammen, and Birgitte Mossin Brønden. “Donor-Country Responses to the Migration-Development Buzz: From Ambiguous Concepts to Ambitious Policies?”International Migration: 26-42. Print.
 F. B. Adamson, and M. Demetriou. “Remapping the Boundaries of `State’ and `National Identity’: Incorporating Diasporas into IR Theorizing.” European Journal of International Relations (2007): 489-526. Print.
 R. Bauböck, and Thomas Faist. Diaspora and Transnationalism Concepts, Theories and Methods. Amsterdam UP, 2010. Print.
By Arame Niang