Remittance inflows to Sub-Saharan Africa soared 14.1 percent to $49 billion in 2021

Officially recorded remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are expected to increase by 4.2 percent this year to reach $630 billion. This follows an almost record recovery of 8.6 percent in 2021, according to the World Bank’s latest Migration and Development Brief released today.

During 2021, remittance inflows saw strong gains in Latin America and the Caribbean (25.3 percent), Sub-Saharan Africa (14.1 percent), Europe and Central Asia (7.8 percent), the Middle East and North Africa (7.6 percent), and South Asia (6.9 percent). Remittances to East Asia and the Pacific fell by 3.3 percent; although excluding China, remittances grew 2.5 percent. Excluding China, remittance flows have been the largest source of external finance for LMICs since 2015.

The top five recipient countries for remittances in 2021 were India, Mexico (replacing China), China, the Philippines, and Egypt. Among economies where remittance inflows stand at very high shares of GDP are Lebanon (54 percent), Tonga (44 percent), Tajikistan (34 percent), Kyrgyz Republic (33 percent), and Samoa (32 percent).

“On the one hand, the Ukraine crisis has shifted global policy attention away from other developing regions and from economic migration. On the other hand, it has strengthened the case for supporting destination communities that are experiencing a large influx of migrants,” said Dilip Ratha, lead author of the report on migration and remittances and head of KNOMAD. “As the global community prepares to gather at the International Migration Review Forum, the creation of a Concessional Financing Facility for Migration to support destination communities should be seriously considered. This facility could also provide financial support to origin communities experiencing return migration during the COVID-19 crisis.”

Globally, the average cost of sending $200 was 6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2021, double the SDG target of 3 percent, according to the Bank’s Remittances Prices Worldwide Database. It is cheapest to send money to South Asia (4.3 percent) and most expensive to send to Sub-Saharan Africa (7.8 percent).

Remittance inflows to Sub-Saharan Africa soared 14.1 percent to $49 billion in 2021 following an 8.1 percent decline in the prior year. Growth in remittances was supported by strong economic activity in Europe and the United States.

Recorded inflows to Nigeria, the largest recipient country in the region, gained 11.2 percent, in part due to policies intended to channel inflows through the banking system. Countries registering double-digit growth rates include Cabo Verde (23.3 percent), Gambia (31 percent), and Kenya (20.1 percent). Countries where the value of remittance inflows as a share of GDP is significant include the Gambia (27 percent), Lesotho (23 percent), Comoros (19 percent), and Cabo Verde (16 percent).

In 2022, remittance inflows are projected to grow by 7.1 percent driven by continued shift to the use of official channels in Nigeria and higher food prices – migrants will likely send more money to home countries that are now suffering extraordinary increases in prices of staples. The cost of sending $200 to the region averaged 7.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2021, a small decline from 8.2 percent a year ago.

Source: The World Bank (Published on May 11, 2022)

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