“Nigeria ranks fourth among African countries with large numbers of diasporans outside the continent…the extra-continental Nigerian diaspora has tripled in two decades.”
Kevin Urama, chief economist and vice-president of the Economic Governance and Knowledge Management, African Development Bank (AfDB) Group, says Nigeria ranks fourth among African countries with the number of diasporans outside the continent.
Mr Urama disclosed this in Abuja while speaking on ‘Diaspora Funding for Africa’s Development’ at the ‘Global African Diaspora Symposium on Building Stronger Connections between Africa and the Global Diaspora’ on Thursday.
“Nigeria is one of the countries with large numbers of diasporans. The Nigerian Diaspora living outside Africa has tripled between 2000 and 2020,” said the AfDB vice-president. “While Nigeria ranks fourth among African countries with large numbers of diasporans outside the continent, the extra-continental Nigerian diaspora has tripled in two decades.”
Mr Urama added, “From 320,000 people in 2000 to about one million in 2020. About 58 per cent of Nigeria’s diasporans live outside Africa, while 42 per cent live in Africa.”
Mr Urama said the African Union estimated that 70,000 skilled professionals emigrate from the continent annually, noting that in 2015, African-trained medical graduates practising in the U.S. reached 13,584.
He said, “The Mo Ibrahim Foundation assessment ‘Brain Drain: A bane for Africa’s potential’ found that in 2015, 86 per cent of all African-educated physicians working in the U.S. were trained in Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa.”
The AfDB vice-president added, “A significantly large number of Africans in the diaspora are excelling in medicine, robotics, space engineering, nanotechnology, architecture, engineering, public policy, academia, IT and literature. Other fields where they excel include the media, sports, entertainment, the public domain of politics and the private sector in different parts of the world.”
According to the economist, there has not been a more fitting time than the present for us to unite, work together, and help build a formidable, dynamic and prosperous continent.
Mr Urama said, “Development is a do-it-yourself (DIY) business. Africans should take the proverbial ‘bull by the horns; do what is right for Africa. By working together, we can build the Africa we want.”
Speaking on diaspora financing in supporting Africa’s development, he said that the African diasporans were invaluable assets for Africa’s development and their countries of residence worldwide.
He said all Africans living in Africa, migrants living outside Africa and people of African descent living in other continents around the world constitute ‘The Global Africa’.
The economist said they also had the inherent desire and responsibility to build Africa we want proactively.
Mr Urama listed key areas African diasporans could finance and support Africa’s development, including securitisation of remittances, diaspora bonds, trade and investment promotion, research, innovation, knowledge, technology transfer and brain circulation.
Speaking on the key areas, he said diaspora remittances to Africa had increased significantly over the past decade, from $53 billion in 2010 to about $100 billion in 2022.
According to him, the flow of remittances to African countries has remained stable and predictable, making it a formidable source of financing for African development.
“Nigeria is one of the major remittance recipient countries in Africa. With an estimated value of $19.5 billion in 2021 and $21 billion in 2022, accounting for almost 20 per cent of the continent’s total value of remittances in both years,” stated the AfDB vice-president. “This makes Nigeria the first recipient country in sub-Saharan Africa and the second in Africa, after Egypt, which received $31.5 billion (30 per cent of the total remittances) in 2021.”
Egypt, Nigeria, Morocco and Ghana alone accounted for almost 70 per cent of the total value of remittances in Africa in 2021, according to Mr Urama.
“These were not debts. There were 100 per cent gifts or grants, a new form of concessional financing that is the key for livelihood security for millions of Africans,” the economist said.
Mr Urama said the impact of remittance flows on economies was quite significant as they ensured a stable source of income and eased consumption and other immediate livelihood needs for families, especially during crises.
He said they contributed to reducing growth volatilities, as seen in the Philippines, Mexico, Pakistan, India, and others; provided alternative financing investments; helped boost domestic savings and contributed to financial intermediation.
The economist said the role of remittances in promoting investments could be significantly enhanced by securitising them.