The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Gambians Abroad has said that Gambian migrants contributed 22% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016.
Minister Ousainou Darboe said this statistics is according to a report by IFAD in June 2017 which also confirmed that The Gambia is second country in Africa that relies on remittances to GDP, just below Liberia at 31%.
A remarkable $181 million was remitted by Gambian migrants in 2016, Darboe added.
It is for this reason, among several others, that the new government is working very hard to harness the role of its diaspora in national development, officials said.
Gambia’s President Adama Barrow, in a speech to the diaspora in New York in September, said The Gambia will benefit significantly more if it has diaspora bonds and other visible diaspora direct investment.
“This will pull together diaspora finances to fund specific national socio-economic and medium scale infrastructure development project, while generating return for the individual diaspora investor co-tended,” Mr Darboe said.
Mr Darboe said he hopes The Gambia diaspora will have increased confidence in local financial institutions so that they will keep a significant part of their savings in the country thereby boosting the national economy. He is also looking forward to bilateral negotiations for “profitability of social security benefit for the Gambian diaspora”.
According to research, The Gambia has the second highest rate of tertiary educated migration population in sub-Saharan Africa at 63%, behind Cape Verde at 67.5%.
The foreign minister said the government must make sure that migration contributes positively to development outcomes, and ultimately play a vital role in achieving the 2030 Agenda.
Remittances to family and friends and what jobs diaspora can take home are some key highlights in the discourse on Gambian Diaspora.
“Such a narrow focus is a mistake, which may lead to missed opportunities, overstretch of diaspora goodwill and petty squabbles,” he said arguing that in implementing diaspora strategy that facilitates and harnesses their contributions beyond merely their finances and skills of individuals, the new government has developed a diaspora strategy, established a diaspora directorate and allocated a month to celebrate the country’s diaspora.
Launching of an initiative by the Central Bank of The Gambia and partners to reduce the transaction cost of the remittances to a maximum of 3%, inauguration of the annual diaspora “Take in the Nation” forum to mark the declaration and start of the diaspora month scheduled for Dec 15 to January 15 are also part of the strategies.
Author: Sanna Camara
Source: Picture: Lawyer Ousainou Darboe