the diaspora wallet is empty

Published on : 20/11/2020 – 08:39

It is the lifeline of millions of Africans. Diaspora money weighs far more than development aid from rich countries. But this year, due to the economic crisis following the Covid-19 pandemic, the sums are dwindling. It will drop by 21% according to the United Nations.

Sending money to his family is the number one goal of migrants. An existential objective which justifies the crazy gamble of having abandoned his land and left his family to try the adventure abroad. Since 2009, remittances to the African continent have doubled, exceeding development aid or foreign direct investment. In 2019, 85 billion dollars went out of the pockets of migrant workers to fill those of their parents who remained in Africa. Three-quarters of the money is used to buy food or to finance health, education and housing expenses, according to studies by the United Nations. Amounts necessary to cover the basic needs of millions of people.

The prospect of a drop in remittances from abroad to Africa is therefore synonymous with disaster for a large number of families. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, these transfers are expected to fall by 21% to settle at $ 67 billion in 2020. The global economic crisis affecting all countries and in particular North America, Europe and the Middle East, the three major labor-intensive regions, is at stake. emigrant work. However, these migrants are among the first victims of the economic crisis. ” Many work in the sectors most affected. Hotel and catering, domestic services, seasonal market gardening “, With often” temporary employment contracts “, Notes the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) in a report on the impact of Covid on migrant workers. According to the OECD, the unemployment rate of immigrants in the United States has fallen from 3.1% before the economic crisis to 10.2% since.

Countries dependent on migrants’ money

For some countries, which are heavily dependent on remittances, the fall in remittances risks accentuating the economic slowdown. In Mali, diasporic transfers represent 7% of GDP, in Senegal, the rate rises to 10%. In fifteen African countries, these transfers amount to more than 5% of GDP. However, the fall in transfers is not homogeneous and will not be the same for all countries. Thus, the Comoros archipelago, the African country most dependent on diaspora money, saw the amounts sent jump by 32% over the first five months of 2020. In Morocco, after a drop during the In April and May, transfers benefited from a catching-up effect from June, to the point that in August the drop was only 2.3% compared to 2019. Because there is also a phenomenon said of “no return”. Knowing that they could not return to Africa for the summer holidays because of travel restrictions and containment measures, migrant workers sometimes compensated by sending more money back home.

Reduce transfer costs

Still, for all countries and the whole of 2020, forecasts remain pessimistic and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa is recommending a series of measures to stimulate diasporic transfers to Africa. The first of these should be to reduce the cost of transferring money, which remains largely prohibitive. For a transfer of $ 200, the global average of taxes collected by financial institutions is 7%. Africa is the region with the highest costs for receiving a remittance, averaging 8%. Very far from the 3% set as a target by the UN. The organization would also like banks and operators to reduce fees on money transfers to zero during the pandemic. A policy that would allow households living on the money of migrant workers to somewhat offset the decrease in remittances.

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