Following the tremendous success of the inaugural Jamaican Diaspora Conference in June 2004, plans are well underway for the staging of this year’s event.
Chairman of the Diaspora Conference organising committee, Douglas Orane said this year’s event was projected to be even bigger and better than the first staging of the conference.
The second Jamaican Diaspora Conference, which is being held under the same theme as the first, “Unleashing the Potential,” will be staged at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston from June 15 to 16.
Speaking at yesterday’s JIS Think Tank, Mr. Orane revealed that whereas the inaugural forum involved 250 participants representing several Jamaican organizations and communities in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States, this year’s conference would see 500 representatives coming not only from these three countries, but also from Central America, Africa and the Caribbean.
Providing a breakdown of the participants for the conference, State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Delano Franklyn said 150 delegates are expected from the United States, 100 from the United Kingdom, 100 from Canada and 50 from the Caribbean, Africa and Central America combined.
The decision to broaden the network of delegates for the conference was deliberate, said Senator Franklyn, as the Government of Jamaica recognised that “in order to organise the Jamaican community overseas, we need to do it in a very systematic and incremental fashion, and therefore we build slowly.”
One hundred professionals and business interests from Jamaica will also attend at the conference to interact with the overseas delegates.
“There will be 50 delegates some targeted, some by request. Targeted meaning that the conference will allow for a lot of networking and they would like to see some of the critical stakeholders drawn from the public sector, private sector, civil society, as well as the political directorate, so these persons will be invited to be delegates within the 50, and there will be another 50 drawn primarily from the sponsors and planning committee,” Senator Franklyn explained.
Some of the persons ‘targeted’ to attend this year’s conference include the Permanent Secretaries in the Ministries of National Security, Education and Youth, Health, and the Office of the Prime Minister, as well as the Director of Customs and representatives from the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) and Air Jamaica.
“I have identified these Permanent Secretaries and other officials because Jamaicans living abroad need a lot of assistance in these particular areas. These are persons who will be sitting down to talk to the Diaspora so that persons will be given an opportunity to greet them, congratulate them where necessary, and also, if they so desire, to be critical,” he said.
According to Senator Franklyn, the delegates attending the conference will represent a comprehensive mix of persons whose selection has been so structured that they “are expected to be able to speak on behalf of particular communities.”
“Delegates must be drawn from across the geographic area, not just located in any particular area. Secondly, we stipulated and emphasized age differential, because it is very critical to get the involvement of the second, third and fourth generations of Jamaicans living overseas. It is very important for us to know how and what they are thinking, and what we need to do in order to be able to enhance their involvement in the development of Jamaica,” Senator Franklyn informed JIS News.
Efforts have also been made to ensure a gender balance in the group of delegates, as well as a cross-section of representatives drawn from a range of professional, civil and community groups.