Massive, virtual diaspora conference set for May 22

– as authorities take forward plans to leverage skills, capital abroad

AS part of efforts aimed at encouraging Guyanese living on board to take advantage of the many opportunities available locally, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation will host a massive virtual diaspora conference on May 22 , 2021.
On Thursday, during a press briefing, the Foreign Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Robert Persaud, highlighted the ministry’s plans to hold this conference, emphasizing that such an event aims to “ promotion ”efforts associated with engaging with the diaspora.
The President, Dr. Irfaan Ali, will make the featured speech at this conference. Key ministries and government agencies, where members of the diaspora might be interested in engaging, are also expected to be part of this conference.

Some of the agencies that will feature during the conference include the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce; Ministry of Housing and Water; Guyana Finance Authority (GRA) and Guyana Investment Office (Go-Invest).
Following the conference in May, Persaud said there will be subsequent commitments at country or regional level.
The registration routes for this conference will soon be available. As the conference is virtual, there is no limit on how many people can register and attend.
Registration, according to the Foreign Secretary, would help the ministry populate its diaspora database.
“That will be an important virtual diaspora conference that we hope will attract the kind of participation and results needed,” said Persaud.
As part of the impetus to engage with the diaspora and encourage investments in Guyana’s development, the government has been producing a Guyana Diaspora Engagement Strategy and national Action Plan.

Within this broader policy framework, there will be a particular emphasis on re-migration and establishing a well-functioning migrant structure. Focus has also been placed on facilitating ongoing collaboration between government, civil society, the private sector and the diaspora.
Persaud also said that the ministry has been working with its overseas missions to “ramp up” diasporic engagement activities.
While acknowledging that a few of these missions are not mission heads – that is, the Ambassadors or High Commissioners – he confirmed that efforts aimed at promoting and facilitating diaspora engagement have been limited is very limited.

Importantly, he noted that the establishment of a “Diaspora Desk” in the Consulate in New York has been delivering positive results for Guyana. This desk was set up about two months ago with the aim of promoting trade and investment from the diaspora. This desk is staffed by a designated officer in New York.
“It has proven very effective and is something we can try to replicate, over time, even using our existing staff, not necessarily going and appointing new people all the time,” asked Persaud. Furthermore, the Foreign Secretary reasoned: “It is not a situation where we bring people here and walk with them and lead them to opportunities. We want them to be in contact with the various agencies – private and public – and find out for themselves what the opportunities are. “
The role of the ministry, and its diaspora unit, in particular, would be to offer leadership and raise awareness of the activities taking place in Guyana, according to the Foreign Secretary.
Guyana’s emerging oil and gas sector has opened doors for new areas of investment, while strengthening traditional sectors. In January, during an interview with US radio personality Farook Juman, President Ali said there was “great potential” for the diaspora to bring back their capital resources.