December 06, (THEWILL) – Africans in the diaspora are critical to the economic development of Africa, the African Development Bank (AfDB), has said.
The AfDB President, Akinwumi Adesina, said this at the Global Community of Practice (G-COP) policy dialogue being hosted by the bank in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
The dialogue is tagged, “Development Without Borders: Leveraging the African Diaspora for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development in Africa.”
The event was organised by the bank in collaboration with the African Union Commission, the International Organisation for Migration, and the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat.
Adesina said the role of Africans in the diaspora could not be undermined because they constituted the continent’s largest financiers through remittances.
“The value of remittances from the African diaspora doubled from $37 billion in 2010 to $87 billion in 2019, reaching $95.6 billion by 2021.
“Yet official development assistance to Africa in 2021 was $35 billion or 36 percent of the remittances from the diaspora.
“Egypt and Nigeria are among the top-ten remittance recipients globally, with Egypt receiving $31.5 billion and Nigeria, $19.2 billion, both in 2021.
“The African diaspora has become the largest financier of Africa and it is not debt”, he said.
According to him, it is 100 percent gifts or grants, a new form of concessional financing that is the key to livelihood security for millions of Africans.
On the use of the remittances, Adesina said while it had helped to meet financial, food, education, and health needs, and served as countercyclical sources of finance and social protection, more should be done with it.
“We must eliminate the “Africa-premium” charged on remittances, as the cost of remitting funds to Africa was twice what it was for South Asia.
“We must also tap the massive opportunities offered by diaspora bonds because diaspora bonds are effective instruments to harness remittances for the development of Africa.
“In spite of its great potential only four African countries, Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, and Nigeria have successfully issued diaspora bonds, often with mixed results”, he said, while urging African countries to securitise remittances to promote investments, particularly for infrastructure on the continent.
Adesina said remittances to Africa could be used as collateral to secure financing for African economies in view of the fact that it was high, rising and stable.
On other African contributions in the diaspora, the AfDB President said they could offer much more than remittances and investments.
He said they had skills, knowledge, know-how and exposure to the world of business and investments, science, arts, and technologies, that could boost human capital for Africa’s development.
“They can help build world-class universities and can be mentors for the new generation of Africans. That is why all governments in Africa should prioritise affairs of the diaspora”, he added.
He urged African countries to establish ministries of the diaspora to give policy priority to the specific needs of the diaspora.
According to him, the ministry’s establishment will expand their investment opportunities through special incentives.
On voting rights, Adesina said the diaspora should be allowed to vote.
According to him, if they can send money that powers their home economies, they should also help decide the future of the economies of Africa.
He assured Africans in the diaspora of AfDB’s continued partnership toward transforming Africa.