A new policy conferring special privileges and rights for the Ethiopian Diaspora population who invest or reside in Ethiopia is being prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).
High level government officials from across the country will be part of a national Diaspora council and members of the Diaspora who have returned and gotten involved in business will form an advisory council as well.
Similar advisory councils are expected to be present in various missions around the world, while regional states will have their own Diaspora offices supervising the activities of the Diaspora members with the offices under the administration of regional governments.
The new Draft Diaspora policy which has been in the works for months gives privileges to those Diaspora members who completely move to Ethiopia. They will have either free or reduced utilities which is something the government decided to do after studying the issue.
It is not clear just what all the privileges will consist of. In a recent meeting between government officials and Diaspora members held in April, Hailemariam Desalegn, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister refused to allow the privilege of importing duty free cars for investment saying it will create favoritism against the rest of the population.
The new policy also makes available low cost housing to individuals and collective members of the Diaspora in Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa.
Diaspora coordination forums will also be instituted managed by MoFA and supervised by regional and federal offices.
MoFA estimates that there are around two million people of Ethiopian lineage around the world. Those living in North America and Europe, because of their education and income, are considered to have the greatest potential of contributing to the country in terms of investment, technology transfer, and remittances.
Other Ethiopian Diaspora living in the Middle East are generally considered less educated and are engaged mainly in unskilled sectors but have been substantial contributors in terms of remittances.
MoFA also said South Africa is being chosen as the main destination for skilled and unskilled Ethiopian migration in the African continent. Many skilled Ethiopian migrants who stay in Africa live in Botswana and the tiny republic of Equatorial Guinea.
Mulugeta Kelil, Diaspora Engagement Affairs Director General at MoFA, said the policy document will be presented to the Ministry’s board in few weeks and after relevant changes and amendments, it will be presented to the Council of Ministers to be ratified.