Briefing Paper

South Africa’s Two Diasporas: Engagement and Disengagement

“The African diaspora is increasingly viewed as a key to realizing the development potential of international migration. At the same time, there remains considerable confusion about who exactly constitutes the diaspora and which groups should be targeted for ‘diaspora engagement.’ For some, the diaspora consists of all migrants of African birth living outside Africa. The African Union’s definition of the African diaspora, for example, ‘comprises people
of African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality.’ The World Bank goes a step further to distinguish between an involuntary and a voluntary, a historical and a contemporary, component of the diaspora: ‘Over four million voluntary
immigrants of African origin reside in the West. This ‘voluntary’ Diaspora is distinct from the vastly larger ‘involuntary’ Diaspora that populates North America, Europe, the Caribbean, and Brazil. On matters of African development, however, the interests of both groups often intersect.'”