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Study of African Contributions to Washington D.C.

The Washington, D.C. Mayor’s Office on African Affairs and George Mason University’s Institute for Immigration Research have teamed up to study the economic and social impact of Washington’s large African immigrant population.

The survey research to be conducted this fall will focus on age, employment, education, housing and the cultural diversity of African-born residents who migrated from various countries in Africa to the nation’s capital.

Safiya Khalid is the executive director of The Institute for Immigration Research, which is a joint venture between George Mason University and the Immigrant Learning Center of Massachusetts. Khalid says they study the economic impact of” all immigrant groups with a focus on the economic contributions of immigrant entrepreneurs with a high level of education or skills.”

The lack of data on African immigrants was the major motivation for conducting the study, she said. “Washington D.C. is the fifth-largest immigrant destination in the U.S. and the second destination of choice for about 161,000 African immigrants said Khalid, “yet there’s somewhat limited research available focusing specifically on the African community.”

Khalid says existing data collected primarily by the U.S. census does not distinguish between black African American and others “so it’s challenging to extract data relevant to the specific needs of the African population.

“We will design and send survey questionnaires to various African immigrant communities, businesses, professionals in the district through the assistance of Mr. Momadou Samba, who is the director ofD.C.’s Mayor’s Office on African Affairs.

“The survey results will uncover evidence of economic and social contributions of the D.C. African immigrants,” said Khalid. “And it will create a new confidential and in-depth data voice describing the African community. Also, the results will facilitate the work of service providers and government agencies by connecting the African community to recourses available.”

She said the survey results will be shared with the participants, community organizations, and advocacy groups. It will also be available to all residents of the D.C. metro area on the internet.