Our first Caribbean action has begun with Guyana’s Diaspora Unit. We are supporting the unit to prepare for digitalisation of diaspora-engagement services. How to approach such a broad ambition? EUDiF’s Charlotte Griffiths and Dr Agathe Randrianarisoa visited Georgetown to get the ball rolling…
Digital definitions & ambitions
Digitalisation is a transformation process which holds huge potential for diaspora engagement as it can drive efficiency, create opportunities and ultimately strengthen connections between diaspora, government institutions and other actors, including the private sector. We see digitalisation in everything from government portals, to remittance apps, to diaspora network building and skills transfer – both as a topic itself and in transfer methodologies. Indeed, digitalisation is a completely transversal process, similar to communication or knowledge management.
As a process, diaspora engagement is similarly transversal given the diversity of diaspora interests and needs when it comes to accessing government services and engaging with the country of heritage.
With this in mind, the Diaspora Unit of Guyana applied to the Capacity Development Lab to help it improve its service delivery in the short term through digital communication, whilst simultaneously preparing it to advocate for diaspora inclusion in a long-term government digital transformation. Together, we have created a programme of skills development and knowledge sharing on digitalisation of diaspora engagement services.
“Data and digital technologies are transforming our economies and societies at unprecedented speed and scale. They hold the potential to foster inclusive growth, tackle inequalities and transform the delivery of public services, enabling the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).” – DG International Partnerships
State of play in Guyana
Guyana is experiencing a watershed moment. Having discovered oil and gas reserves in 2019, the economy has experienced unprecedented growth and the government is leveraging this to construct a modern Guyana, with the government’s digital infrastructure as a keystone. The economic stimulus is driving interest in engagement from both the diaspora and the government as each see opportunities for collaboration with mutual benefit. The Diaspora Unit is the bridge between the wider government and the diaspora. It supports each in their ambitions and is thus keenly aware of the opportunities and needs to enhance service delivery in order to maximise diaspora engagement for Guyana’s national development.
In the first week of December, Charlotte and Agathe visited Georgetown for a series of meetings with key ministries to understand the progress in digitalising services for Guyanese, including the diaspora. The week was packed, with the Diaspora Unit proving the impressive convening power one department can have.
The team discussed digitalisation and diaspora engagement potential with the Prime Minister, the National Data Management Authority, the Ministry of Tourism, Commerce and Industry, the Ministry of Tourism, Youth and Sport, the Ministry of Labour and a group of agencies whose services are high-demand topics for citizens abroad, such as the passport office and the revenue authority.
Based on the conversations with Ministers and senior officials, it is clear that Guyana is accelerating its digitalisation at hyper speed and the Diaspora Unit is poised to ensure the diaspora is not left behind.
In the next phase of the action, we will turn our attention to what other countries are doing to digitalise their diaspora engagement, exploring interesting practices that can inspire and guide Guyana in the medium to long-term.
EUDiF’s Latin America and the Caribbean thematic meetings and collection of digitalisation initiatives have already shown there is a wealth of experience in employing digital processes to enable diaspora engagement, ranging from digital plebiscites to mobile money transfer. In addition, many other diaspora engagement processes, such as mentoring, skills transfer and labour migration incorporate digitalised elements which could prove useful for Guyana.
In addition to peer learning, we will work with the Diaspora Unit on its current service delivery by developing digital communication and monitoring skills.
The world of policy development and implementation is now inseparable from the digital world, meaning the future of diaspora engagement is intertwined with digitalisation. As both processes have enormous potential for sustainable development, it as a perfect match to explore the two together. We will share our insights as the action unfolds in order to help the wider diaspora-development ecosystem navigate the vast potential of digitalisation. Watch this space!
Cover photo shows the Diaspora Unit and EUDiF team (L-R): Rosalinda Rasul, Fardeen Alli, Marcey Parker, Charlotte Grifiths, Agathe Randrianarisoa, Fariza Hassain.