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Session 6 – Digital Diaspora: Technological Tools for Engagement

Event date with timezone
- Europe/Dublin
Type of Event


Diaspora engagement has often been described as ensuring that diaspora communities can be at home abroad. With the transformative change of pace in communications and technology, diaspora communities can now be instantaneously connected with home. Digital innovation has essentially reshaped the diaspora engagement landscape and the ability to design new ways of thinking and doing. For example, whilst some of the foundational questions of diaspora engagement are still the same, digital tools have now allowed a critical reimagination of how these can be answered. Similarly, due to technological tools, diaspora engagement can now be driven through new codes of communication and governance that embed authenticity and accountability to nurture the key ingredient for diaspora engagement – trust.

Digital Diaspora: Reshaping the Diaspora Engagement Landscape

In reshaping the engagement landscape, it is important to think through the different capacities afforded by digital diaspora engagement tools for the key actors across the diaspora engagement framework. Diaspora organizations can now unleash digital tools to create and sustain a sense of belonging within the diaspora and design targeted engagements that align with the interests operating across diaspora communities. There are emerging digital platforms across different types of diaspora organizations that are building digital communities around ancestry, culture, gender, youth, and various areas of interest.

Underpinning such work is the entry of global digital market leaders into the diaspora engagement landscape, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tiktok, and other digital communication entities. These tools, and the evolution of services they provide, are now being designed to drive digital diaspora communities of purpose. This is creating collective movements of changemakers in areas such as advocacy, social entrepreneurship, and development. It is also democratizing the engagement process as diaspora users are empowered to decide what to follow, what groups to engage with, and how to share their voices. This, of course, has not been without its challenges. It has led to tensions and polarization across diasporas but perhaps more significantly, it has opened critical discussions around issues of misinformation. Much work is still needed to ensure veracity of output generated through digital diaspora tools with the impact of disinformation and misinformation becoming more prevalent. Communication strategies to engage both with and through diaspora communities must not shy away from such issues.

From the perspective of governments, digital tools have begun to afford them new capacities to structure dialogues with their diaspora communities and centralize the important skills of listening and networking with their diaspora. New digital tools and capabilities have realigned the skillsets required for effective diaspora diplomacy in the networked 21st century. In terms of implementing diaspora engagement from a whole of government and whole of society approach, digital tools have now also begun to nurture innovation in key areas of traditional diaspora engagement such as skills transfer and financial investment.

Whilst the digital landscape has realigned agency in the diaspora engagement journey, questions remain unexplored on how to balance these new tools with the off-line community engagement of diaspora communities. Diaspora engagement, no matter what your area of focus of engagement may be, is now “high-tech” and “high-touch”.

Scope of Session

The scope of this session will be to share innovative digital tools for diaspora engagement to inspire global action through digitalisation. The session will also scope how digital creativity can inspire and sustain diaspora communities of purpose and impact. In this light, the importance of global digital connection hubs such as iDiaspora will also be discussed.

Discussion will also focus on how digital innovation can draw in powerful new actors into the diaspora engagement landscape. It will identify how diaspora engagement can shape a call to action for new enablers of diaspora engagement through digital empowerment of the sector. This will include how digital tools can enhance a voice for marginalized communities through diaspora engagement.

To achieve these outcomes, guiding questions for the session include:

• What are the key steps in ensuring constructive and safe use of digital tools for diaspora engagement?

• What areas of diaspora engagement can be innovated through digital tools?

• What contributions can digital tools make in elevating the role of government in diaspora engagement?

• How can diaspora organizations utilize digital tools to support their organizational capacity and development, including fundraising, increasing community membership, communication strategies, and other areas of organizational growth?

• How can digital tools empower silent or marginalized communities through diaspora engagement and advance advocacy on their behalf?

• How can diaspora engagement attract global digital brands to support the development of the diaspora engagement sector?

Methodology of Session

The session will open with an input from the governmental host to share their diaspora engagement story, followed by an inspirational address from a global leader on the topic.

The session will conclude with a showcasing of a diaspora organization exemplar and an interactive discussion with participants to help develop recommendations for the enhancement of digital engagements of diaspora within international development. In line with aims of the summit to provide peer-to-peer exchange and knowledge sharing, the digital platform also provides networking capacity throughout the session for participants to engage with each other. The final outcomes generated through the panellist and participant interventions will be reflected in the summit report and provide insight for the final ‘Outcome Document’ of the GDS.

We look forward to welcoming you to this session to learn about your ideas and views on digital diaspora engagement to generate a new generation of technological practices across diaspora engagement!


Host - Government of india



Dr. Ausaf Sayeed (b. September 18, 1963) is a career diplomat belonging to the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) 1989 Batch. He holds a Master of Science and a Ph.D. in Geology from Osmania University in Hyderabad, India and an Advanced Diploma in Arabic from the American University in Cairo. He is a Competent Toastmaster (CTM) and recipient of the Y.G.K. Murthy Gold Medal from Osmania University. 

Dr. Sayeed has handled different areas of work in his 33 years of diplomatic service, including political, economic, consular and cultural work, besides Haj management. Before his appointment as Secretary (Consular, Passport, Visa and Overseas Indian Affairs) he served as the Ambassador of India to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (April 2019-March 2022).   Prior to that he served as High Commissioner of India to Seychelles (February 2017-April 2019), Consul General of India in Chicago (August 2013-January 2017), Ambassador of India to Yemen (September 2010-July 2013), Consul General of India in Jeddah (August 2004-July 2008), besides working at the Indian diplomatic Missions in Cairo, Riyadh, Doha and Copenhagen in various capacities. 

He has also served as the Joint Secretary overseeing the West Africa Division in the Ministry of External Affairs (August 2008-August 2010) and as the Regional Passport Officer, Hyderabad (May 1993 - January 1995). 

Dr. Sayeed has published three books, one on Geology and two on Indian Art & Culture. He has also compiled and edited the Urdu book ‘Kuliyaat-e-Awaz Sayeed’, which comprises of the entire literary works of his father. 

Dr. Sayeed is married to Farha Sayeed, an accomplished Egg Sculptor and artist. The couple has three sons.

Moderator - dr. Larisa LarA, IOM


Larisa Lara is the Transnational Communities and Digital Communications Officer at IOM Geneva. She completed her PhD at the Centre for Ethnic and Migration Studies (CEDEM) of the University of Liège and at the Research Unit of Migration and Society (URMIS) of the University of Paris. She holds an MSc in Migration Studies from the University of Oxford and an MA in Conflict, Security, and Development from King’s College London. Larisa has published multiple academic articles and policy papers specializing in transnationalism and diasporas engagement. In 2021 she was appointed as finalist of the VIII Worldwide Competition for Junior Sociologists engaged in social research.

keynote speaker - SEMHAR ARAI, Facebook 


A trained lawyer, practitioner, and thought leader, Semhar Araia serves as head of Diaspora Public Policy for the Meta’s Africa, Middle East and Turkey (AMET) Public Policy team, where she is responsible for developing the company’s diaspora policy priorities and leading strategic engagement with diaspora stakeholders outside of the region. 

Ms. Araia has provided technical expertise, trainings, research and advisory support to governments, organizations and African, Asian, Arab and European diaspora communities on the role of diasporas in international development, social impact and community leadership.   

Previously, she led UNICEF USA's Diaspora Partnerships and served as a diaspora technical advisor to USAID, the African Union, and the United Nations. She began as an attorney for the implementation of the 2000 Eritrea-Ethiopia peace agreement was a policy advisor for Oxfam International, The Elders and the US House of Representatives. 

Semhar is the founder of the Diaspora African Women's Network (DAWN). She was recognized by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and by President Barack Obama for her work with African diaspora communities. Semhar was born in New York City to Eritrean immigrant parents and resides in New York City. 

Diaspora organization - Dr hemant kumar


Dr Hemant Kumar is President of Vedic Hindu Cultural Centre of Ireland. He is a practising General Physician.

He did his MBBS & MS (General Surgery) from Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India.
He did his MICGP from Irish college of General Practitioners.

Beside his professional engagements, he is involved in various social activities also. Being part of the process, he understands the issues of Immigrants very closely and often comes out with suggestions and helps in resolving visa, work and student related issues in a better way.
He was an integral part of Vedic Hindu Cultural Centre of Ireland since it’s inception and has been instrumental in uniting the Indian community. Opening of first Hindu temple in Dublin/Ireland is mainly a result of his sincere efforts.

He also facilitate organizing regular interaction of the Indian community with concerned Politicians & Ministers. This gives the community a chance to discuss their problems directly with the Ministers to reach at effective solutions.

During Covid crisis, Dr Kumar helped a very large number of Indian students as well as Indian visitors who were in need of medical aid, food etc. With the help of the Embassy, a local support group, with professional from different spheres, was formed. Dr. Kumar was the leading member of that group and was assisting in taking care of all sorts of problems being faced by the Indian community despite several odds.

He is an active member of Dublin City Interfaith Forum, which provides opportunity for members of all faith and communities to build closer relationships and interact with each other.

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