Nairobi: Kenyans living abroad sent a staggering US $1.8 billion back home last year, according to a report from the World Bank and the African Development Bank. The detailed report says that around 30 million African people live outside their home countries and migration are a vital lifeline for the continent. In Kenya, the rate of net migration fell over the last decade as more people returned home, but it was at its height between 1990 and 1995 when 1.74 per cent of the country left.
In Uganda, which received US $773 million from its diaspora last year, net migration rates are also falling. African countries received a staggering US $406 billion from remittances from abroad in 2010, the largest net inflow of foreign funds after Foreign Direct Investment.
Yet the report warned that African governments need to do more to realise the full economic benefits of the phenomenon. The report, Leveraging Migration for Africa: Remittances, Skills, and Investments, presents data from new surveys.
The report finds evidence that suggest migration and remittances reduce poverty in the origin communities. Remittances lead to increased investments in health, education, and housing in Africa. Diasporas also provide capital, trade, knowledge, and technology transfers.
Most African migrants live in France (around 10 per cent), while six percent live in South Africa and four per cent in the UK and the United States. But two-thirds of migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly poorer migrants, go to other countries in the region, the report says.
'Migration pressures will only rise in the future as a result of demographic changes of rising population in Africa and falling labour forces in Europe and many developed countries,' said Hans Timmer, director of development prospects at the World Bank. 'Therefore, adapting policy responses to demographic forces and crafting multilateral arrangements for managing future migration is essential.'
As a share, recorded remittances represented 55 per cent of total investment in Kenya and 20 per cent in Uganda, the report said.