Today we released a new report, 'Leveraging Migration for Africa: Remittances, Skills, and Investments'. This report is a joint effort by the African Development Bank and the World Bank. It comes at a time when countries in Africa and elsewhere are grappling with difficult choices on how to manage migration. It marks an effort to fill data and knowledge gaps on migration which in Africa comes in complex forms.
About 30 million Africans live outside their home countries, and migration is a vital lifeline for the continent. These migrants sent home over $40 billion in remittances last year. And their annual estimated saving, usually held in foreign countries, exceeds $50 billion.
Skilled migration poses special challenges of service delivery and loss of human capital, especially in poor countries with low education base, thus in part subtracting from the benefits of large remittances. Yet, the policy measures to address skilled migration issues tend to be impracticable or lack country specificity. In the end, large investments in training people are going to be needed to bridge the gap between demand for and supply of skills in Africa. Restricting the emigration of high-skilled professionals in any form is a no-no.
Primary household surveys conducted as a part of the Africa Migration Project reveal a number of interesting aspects of migration. Migration is mostly intra-regional, and informal. Migrants are mostly young and male. The educated migrate to the North whereas the unskilled migrate within the region. The major reason for migration is to seek employment.
Surveys reveal Investments such as land purchases, building a home, and starting a business were the highest uses of remittances sent home by African diaspora. As a share of total investment, these represented 36 percent in Burkina Faso, 55 percent in Kenya, 57 percent in Nigeria, 15 percent in Senegal, and 20 percent in Uganda. Education was the second-highest use of remittances from outside Africa into Nigeria and Uganda, the third highest into Burkina Faso, and the fourth highest into Kenya.
The report also outlines innovative financing mechanisms such as issuance of diaspora bonds and securitization of future remittance flows that can help finance big-ticket projects like railways, roads, power plants, and higher-education institutions that will, step by step, help to transform Africa.
The pdf version of this report, two companion volumes and 6 household survey data involving migration and remittances can be accessed at www.worldbank.org/migration. A report is completed. But a deeper engagement on leveraging migration for Africa’s development has begun.