By Rodney Michael
*Diaspora remittance to Sierra Leone is major economic boost – it should not be undervalued!*
Over the years, there has been some amount of competition dubbed home based vs diaspora, especially in the field of politics. This has escalated to the point of jealousy especially over the last ten years.
There is no disputing the diaspora has a greater earning capacity as most live and work in the United States and Europe.
In 2016, a world bank document suggested 5.4% of the population of Sierra Leone have emigrated to the diaspora, placing the number of Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora at 336 000.
In 2009, the last data I could get access to at the time of writing, a UN offiical document stated that about $ 168 million United States Dollars was remitted to Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora through multiple means, and that constituted around 12% of Sierra Leone’s Gross domestic Product (GDP), which is measured as the total value of goods and services produced in the country. Government calculations at the time placed the diaspora remittance at $250 – $ 400 millon United States Dollars, which would have been 20-25% of the GDP, amongst the highest in Africa.
The significance of Migrants remittance can never be over estimated. This is what an official UN research in 2019 stated;
“Remittances are a private source of capital that’s over three times the amount of official development assistance (ODA) and foreign direct investment (FDI) combined. In 2018, over 200 million migrant workers sent $689 billion back home to remittance reliant countries, of which $529 billion went to developing countries.Jun 15, 2019”
While India ( $ 79 billion USD in 2019 alone – source World Bank) and Asia continue to be the biggest recipients of diaspora remittance, Africa as a whole and Sierra Leone in particular benefit a lot from diaspora support.
The annual remittance by Sierra Leone’s diaspora would have increased considerably since the 2009 data, probablty in excess of $ 500 million United States dollars in 2018 and 2019. Of course Corona could affect the figure for 2020.
The diaspora remittance is supposed to also assist in the foreign exchange revenue generation of any country but Sierra Leone has not benefitted so much from it.
Sierra Leone needs to encourage more diaspora remittance through the formal sector with a few banking policy changes, although the Bank of Sierra Leone 2019 Act could be an obstacle to such changes.
There is need to appreciate the diaspora contribution in the growth and development of our country. The huge amount of regular remittance has kept so many unemployed relatives content in spite of the hardship, and their investment in properties, farming, business and other sectors have also contributed greatly to the socio economic development of the country.
The least we can do is to amend laws restricting their participation in politics and according them equal rights as the home based.
There should be no jealousy but respect, as the home based have held the forte under severe challenges, while the diaspora have contributed greatly to the sustainance of the home based.
Let us learn to appreciate each other!
I am a friend, not a foe! I mean well!