The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) yesterday (November 26th) launched its Least Developed Countries (LDCs) Report 2012.
The Report, with the sub-title "Harnessing Remittances and Diaspora Knowledge to Build Productive Capacities", was made public at the United Nations Economic Conference (UNECA) conference center in Addis Ababa. Ato Tesafachew Tafere, the Least Developed Countries' Division head in UNCTAD, said remittances from overseas citizens of 48 countries had shown a marked increase, and indeed the report indicated that remittances to Africa had steadily increased from US$3.5 billion in 1990 to US$27 billion in 2011.
It also noted that remittances to sub-Saharan Africa in 2010 could have generated an additional US$6 billion if the costs of sending the money had matched the global average. Indeed, according to the report, transfer fees run as high as 12% of the amount transferred. It therefore recommended a reduction of transfer costs as a way to further increase the flow of remittances. The report showed that remittances continued to increase during and after the recent global financial crisis, even as investment and tax revenues declined.
In addition to remittances, the report also covered "brain drain "statistics and looked at ways that LDCs could compensate for the loss of skilled labor. UNCTAD is now proposing a new international support mechanism aimed at enabling highly skilled members of LDC Diasporas to contribute to specialized knowledge transfer and to channel investments to their home countries.