Thursday, August 26, 2004

Africans Sending Billions Back Home

Editors Note 27 Aug 2004:
I had to go back and make a few corrections from my posting from August 26th due to some errors I made in stating facts and figures. I also added new information today regarding migrant labor remittances to Africa.

Posting from 26 Aug 2004:
A couple of days ago I really "stepped in it" by giving my opinions and thoughts on African ex-patriates and migrants living in Europe (see: Migration - The Grass is Not Always Greener). Fortunately up to now no one has expressed outrage via my blog's comments tool or otherwise for writing about such a personal and sensitive subject for migrants living abroad.

Did you know that migrant workers from developing countries living in the U.S. and Europe send home more than US$ 73 billion every year?* (source: World Bank Group for year 2001). Correction: The World Bank Group has more recent figures from a November 2003 working paper which estimates this amount worldwide to be much higher. You can download their report Migrant Labor Remittances in Africa and really learn something about this subject.

Did you know that the money African workers send home from abroad exceeds by more than 25% all of the development aid received by African countries from the industrialized nations? Correction: The figure for 2001 (US$ 73 billion) is just under 50% for all foreign investment in Africa and exceeds by more than 40% the amount African nations receive in development aid from industrialized countries.

More importantly, do the people sending money home know about this???

To show another side of the many issues surrounding immigration and migration, I thought it would be wise to provide some links to the debate featured presently at BBC World online. If you are sending money home to help your family or community in Africa or elsewhere, this information could prove to be very helpful. Pay particular attention to the comments from respondents to this debate. Do some of their stories sound real familiar to you?

BBC World Africa Live Debate: Do you send money home?
BBC World news article: Africans sending money back home
BBC World Service (streaming audio): Hidden Aid

There are plenty of resources online covering this important subject. Of particular interest are news stories and case studies on how financial services institutions such as Western Union and Wells Fargo and the big international banks like HSBC (see Yahoo!'s transfer services) are cashing in big on this monetary transfer bonanza!

Recently here in Germany I have begun to see huge billboard advertisements on the sides of Bahnhof (central train station) buildings, trams, and busses prominently featuring graphics of happy Africans with phrases like "Did you wire some money home today?". No joke! However, if you go into one of these money transfer offices you won't find many Africans working behind the counter, or other "Auslanders" for that matter. It 'aint right, you know what I mean?

In a BusinessWeek Online article dated December 22, 2003 the figure is estimated to be much higher than that published by the World Bank Group in 2001. The BW Online article quotes a figure for the year 2003 exceeding $150 billion dollars in cross-border remittances from 80 million immigrants/migrants living abroad, with about $100 billion going to their family members and other people anonymously! Check the article out for yourself here:

BusinessWeek Online: Can Western Union Keep on Delivering?

We're talking $150 billion bucks here! Hello? Does anyone out there with financial management training and experience see an opportunity here to do something positive for Africa and earn a few bucks while you're at it?

I wonder what would happen if people would wise-up and consolidate that financial power for democratic and economic change in their home countries? They would have more clout than the U.N., which much of the time is crying they are near bankruptcy again.

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