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African remittance flows are back up

Migrant remittances to Africa (2004-12) in US$ billion

© Africa Renewal/UN/afrol News
afrol News / Africa Renewal, 31 January
- After a slump in 2009, migrant financial remittances back to Africa were again on the rise in 2010. Experts expect a further growth in funds sent to Africa in 2011 and 2012.

According to a recent World Bank study, the slump in remittances to Africa in 2009 was recovered last year. By the end of 2010, Bank estimates show, Africans abroad will have sent back a total of US$ 21.5 billion, posting a 4.4 percent rise, after a decline of 3.7 percent the year before.

The World Bank experts also forecast that the amount of money African migrants send back to their countries of origin will reach US$ 22 billion in 2011 and US$ 24 billion in 2012.

Growth in financial remittances back to Africa would however not be as steep as in the years before the financial crisis, the Bank study indicates. From 2005 to 2008, the remittance flow had more than doubled.

The World Bank's Migration and Remittances Factbook 2011 points to the global economic crisis as the main reason for the previous slowdown. In 2007, the total amount of money sent home by migrants from Africa grew 46.7 percent, then the highest rate in the world. Growth slowed to 14.9 percent in 2008 before contracting in 2009.

The Bank's estimates and forecasts, however, are based on incomplete data. "The lack of reliable and timely data for most African countries makes it difficult to judge the actual extent of the flows," note the study's authors.

A major portion of remittances to sub-Saharan Africa goes unrecorded for two main reasons. First, most transfers are made through informal channels.

Second, only about half of the countries regularly report annual remittance data. Some report no remittance data at all, including the Congo Kinshasa (DRC), Somalia and Zimbabwe, which are believed to be significant recipients of remittance flows.

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