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Africa-bound cash remittances hit US$21.5b in 2010

Remittances to their home countries from Africans residing out of the continent will reach US$21.5 billion in 2010, with Nigerians accounting for nearly half of the remittances, a World Bank report released Tuesday showed.

”Remittance flows to Sub-Saharan Africa will reach US$21.5 billion this year af ter a small decrease in 2009 due to the global financial crisis,” the Bank said, citing a report by its Migration and Remittances Factbo ok 2011.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, is by far the top remittance recipient i n Africa, accounting for US$10 billion in 2010, a slight increase over the previous year’s US$9.6 billion.

Other top recipients include Sudan’s US$3.2 billion; Kenya (US$1.8 billion), Sen egal (US$1.2 billion), South Africa (US$1.0 billion), Uganda (US$800 million), Lesotho (US$500 million) and Ethiopia (US$387 million).

Malians sent US$385 million and the Togolese US$302 million.tn

”The fact that remittances are so large, come in foreign currency and go direct ly to households means they have a significant impact on poverty reduction, funding for housing and education, basic essential needs, and even business investments,” said Dilip Ratha, who manages the Remittances Unit at the World Bank.

The Bank tracks documented private transfers of funds and migratory patterns aro und the world. Its findings shows Africa-bound flows fell by about four percent between 2008 and 2009.

”We estimate that recovery will continue over the next two years, with remittan ce flows to the continent possibly reaching about US$24 billion by 2012,” said Ratha.

Ratha cautions that these numbers are gross underestimates, because millions of Africans rely on informal channels to send money home.

Worldwide, remittance flows are expected to reach US$440 billion by end-2010, up from US$416 billion in 2009.

About three-quarters of these funds–US$325 billion — will go to developing cou ntries.

”Remittances are a critical lifeline for families and entire communities across Africa, especially in the aftermath of the global crisis,” Ratha noted.

The Bank is advocating for easier and cheaper means of sending and receiving rem ittances in Africa. The average cost of sending money to Africa is more than 10 percent, the highest among all the regions. The cost of s ending money within Africa is even higher.

The remittances accounted for a higher share of the Gross Domestic Product in se veral countries. In Lesotho, it equaled 25 percent of the GDP and 10 percent of Togo’s economy.

Cape Verde’s earnings from the remittances accounted for 9 percent of the overal l wealth, same as Guinea-Bissau and Senegal. Gambia’s stood at 8 percent, Liberia 6 percent, Sudan 6 percent, Nigeria 6 percent, and Kenya 5 percent.

It is estimated that nearly 22 million Sub-Saharan Africans have left the contin ent.


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