African migrant workers remittances have been
surprisingly resilient in the face of the economic crisis,
despite a small decline in growth figures, according to the
African Development Bank.
Growth fell 6.8% last year, but Peter Walkenhorst, division
manager in the AfDB Research Department, said today: We
saw a clear decline in North Africa, but Sub-Saharan Africa has
been remarkably resilient.
We expect remittances to bounce back during the global
recovery maybe not with the same high growth figures as
before, but we are looking at 3% growth this year, and this is
Remittances nearly quadrupled, to $41.1 billion, in the 13
years between 1995 and 2008, according to official statistics.
And after nearly two decades of double-digit annual growth,
remittances have become as important to Africa as development
aid, which reached $39.4 billion in 2008.
Real worker remittances are significantly larger than the
money flows currently recorded, Walkenhorst said, because
considerable amounts of money are sent back home by informal
The World Bank and AfDB are conducting a joint survey on
volumes and types of remittances, to shed light on what
Walkenhorst said is a very important issue that
policymakers had so far ignored due to a lack of reliable
The survey includes statistics from so-called destination
countries and information on African migrants, who are usually
Previous studies have indicated that African migrants tend
to be flexible workers who easily switch jobs in a tightening
Remittances are usually only a small share of
peoples income, so they are more likely to resist income
shocks, Walkenhorst said. The evidence so far shows
that people send money back irrespective of whether they feel
He said it was hard to predict whether the looming crisis in
Europe will affect remittances in the near future. If we
are headed for a big crisis that results in stricter labour
market requirements and drastic job losses, its
possible, he said. But it could go either
The survey also shows that the costs of remitting cash to
Africa are up to 50% higher than in other developing regions,
as official money transfer agencies often have near-monopolies
through exclusive partnerships with post offices.