SOAS University of London

Centre of African Studies

African Foundation for Development

Since 2011, the Centre of African Studies has collaborated with African Foundation for Development (AFFORD-UK), an African diaspora NGO based in the UK which conducts lobbying and advocacy on the role of the African Diaspora in Africa’s development, and also runs social enterprise and business support programmes in West Africa through its sister organisation in Sierra Leone (AFFORD-SL).


The Centre of African Studies was awarded £17,000 to be one of the partners of the pioneering Africa-UK project, funded by Comic Relief, which supports UK-based Africans to influence policy and practice affecting Africa’s development.

The Centre facilitates the development of links and discussion between academics and Diaspora practitioners, contributing to Africa-UK’s aims of sustaining effective dialogue between the Diaspora and decision makers; challenging policy perspectives that neglect realities on the ground; and recognising the crucial role that the Diaspora plays in Africa’s development.

The Africa-UK project:

  • Provides a platform for African Diaspora individuals and organisations to engage with decision makers
  • Creates opportunities for Africans in the UK to share and exchange their experiences of influencing policy and practice
    Provides training, guidance and small grants to strengthen Diaspora organisations’ influencing skills
  • Supports alliances of Diaspora individuals and organisations to conduct influencing work
    This year’s programme includes mentoring and support for Diaspora organisations, training sessions, policy workshops and networking opportunities across the UK.
  • The project is implemented by AFFORD and delivered by the Centre of African Studies along with other national and regional partners.

Africa-UK events delivered by CAS

CAS Collaboration with AFFORD

AFFORD and CAS held an important one day conference on 30th April 2012 on Impact Funding through the Diaspora, which brought together diaspora organisations involved in development grant-makers from the UK, EU, and Africa. The aim of this event was to enable grant-making organisations to understand better the needs and pressures facing the diaspora sector in the UK, and for diaspora organisations to have an improved understanding of the constraints faced by grant-makers in terms of ensuring value for money, transparency, and compliance in how their funds are managed. The event was well attended with over 250 delegates from the public, voluntary, and diaspora sectors, and included speakers from funders such as DfiD, Comic Relief, Big Lottery Fund, Southern Africa Trust, and the Barings Foundation, as well as leading academics in this field from SOAS and CASS Business School, and diaspora organisations such as FORWARD and SACOMA.

CAS, AFFORD, and the Royal African Society also supported the launch of the SOAS African Development Forum (ADF), an initiative set up by postgraduate students of development at SOAS which seeks to create a space for discussion of African development issues by practitioners, academics, and students. ADF held its inaugural event at the Brunei Gallery on 29th May 2012, on theme of ‘Africa – Driving its own Growth’, bringing together African business leaders, leading academics, and development practitioners.

Following on from the annual Africa Diaspora Development Day (AD3) that takes place in July, AFFORD in partnership with CAS held a one-day conference at the Brunei Gallery on 7th July 2012, entitled ‘Building the Africa-Gives Platform’, which was attended by over 120 young African diaspora professionals and students. ‘Africa-Gives’ is led by young people from the diaspora, and the aim of this event was to work with young people to build a platform for ‘Africa Gives’ and develop key priorities for this over the coming year. Speakers included Hon. Chuka Umunna MP, Herman Chinnery-Hesse (Founder & Chair of Softribe, Ghana), Susan Kagondu (Rockefeller),  Boko Inyundo (Lewis Silkin LLP), and Jacqueline Shaw (Founder, AfricaFashionGuide). For more information on ‘Africa-Gives’, please see Africa Gives.

Africa Europe Platform and Research on Good Practice in Diaspora Development

AFFORD is one of five European diaspora and civil society organisations involved in the delivery of the ‘European-Wide African Diaspora Platform for Development’ (EADPD), a programme supported by the EC, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the German Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The aim of EADPD is to promote the contribution of the diaspora to the development of Africa through the creation of a network of the African diaspora in Europe, the Africa-Europe Platform’ or AEP. This is a network of African diaspora organisations and networks from the 27 EU Member States plus Switzerland and Norway. Through the Platform, the capacity of the African diaspora in Europe to contribute to Africa’s development will be made visible and enhanced, providing an innovative space to share knowledge, accumulate ideas and create  strategies together to participate meaningfully in the development cooperation process in Africa.
As part of the EADPD project, AFFORD are responsible for conducting an online consultation on what constitutes good practice in diaspora development in the EU, with the aim of producing a Good Practice Guide for diaspora organisations and development agencies.CAS successfully bid to deliver this short research project in the summer of 2012, and the research is due to be completed in autumn 2012. 

For a summary of the research you can read Best Practices for Diaspora Organizations.