Diaspora Remittance: A Positive Development

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Saturday letter2

Diaspora remittance is placing emphasis on the evolution of global market capitalism – the diffusion of knowledge, and investment in training and skills of people. Nigeria is becoming a human capital export nation and keying into the global, technological and services-based nature of the economic interactions because diaspora remittance flows far exceed gross oil revenue receipts. The 2018 remittance of Nigerians in the US of $7.2bn is more than the entire $6.7bn earmarked for capital expenditure for 2019. 

In Africa, Nigeria has the largest stocks of human resources for health, civil service and education technology. The surplus in quantity and quality of human and natural resources, the right knowledge, experience, techniques and vocational skills is capable of leading the nation to an exceptional sustainable economic development to the benefit of the masses. The paradox is that with such large stock of human resources which could have been useful for the country, migration to foreign countries in the recent years has caused under production and inequitable distribution of workforce.

The breakdown of the migrant remittance for 13- year period showed tremendous increase in the last three years as it grew by 11.79 per cent to $22.001 billion in 2017 from $19.679 billion in 2016, before recording another 14 per cent growth in 2018. Human capital is today Nigeria’s largest export and it has dethroned crude oil export. Diaspora remittance which is through human capital has surpassed oil receipts every year since 2015 to become the largest source of dollar inflows to Nigeria. According to data from Central Bank of Nigeria, diaspora remittances first outpaced oil revenue in 2015 as $21.2 billion was sent home officially by Nigerians living abroad which surpassed the $19.6bn oil export proceeds for those 12 months. In 2016 and 2017 Nigerians abroad sent home $19.7bn and $22bn respectively which were higher than the $ 10.4bn and $13.4bn garnered from oil exports in the same period. The CBN’s annual economic reports show that in 2018 the total revenue from oil was $18 billion while Nigerians abroad sent home some of $25.1bn, the highest in four years.

Human capital development export today determines the amount of money Nigerians in diaspora can send back home. Nigeria is Africa’s leading economy and most populous nation. It’s also the number one African country for remittances, and is among the top five countries globally for inward flows.

 Diaspora remittance far outweighs capital expenditure: Nigeria’s 2019 capital expenditure budget is $6.7 billion. Since it is no longer news that Nigeria has witnessed the largest capital expenditure for the first time in the country’s budgetary history in the Buhari administration. Diaspora remittances equal 84 per cent of the federal government’s budget: Nigeria’s 2018 budget was $29.9bn while diaspora remittances stood at $25.1bn for the same year. The 2018 remittances, which saw a 14 per cent increase from the 2017 figure of $22bn remittances of Nigerians living abroad was seven times the size of foreign aids of $3.359bn to Nigeria. The $25.1 billion remittances in 2018 represented 6.1 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This means that the remittances were 11 times the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), which stood at $2.200 billion for the same year.(Price Water house Coopers).

The total amount of inflow from diaspora remittances into Nigeria in 2018 was equal to 84 per cent of the country’s budget last year. While one may never know or be privy to the fundamental reason(s) why Nigerian governments had serially failed to utilize the human and material resources of the diaspora community that other developed countries of the world had effectively utilized as catalysts for their development, it is important to mention at this juncture some countries that have used the diaspora communities as their developmental templates as well as making them integral to their growth and development in the research works in my “Road map for engaging Diasporas in development: A Policy Direction” with the hope that this would create a clearer picture on the diaspora issue.

Diaspora remittances by Nigerians in 2018 surpassed earnings from oil and gas last year. Nigerians in diaspora in 2017 had remitted S22bn, making it the highest in sub-Saharan Africa followed by Senegal and Ghana with $2.2bn each in the same year. Currently, the country is in the top five nations in global remittances.

Inwalomhe Donald, Abuja