30 November 2012

Gambia: Remittances for Development


Migration is a process, which implies the movement of people from one part of the world to the other. It is a phenomenon that is as old as the human being. Throughout human history, people have migrated from place to place for different reasons. In ancient times, people migrated both voluntarily and involuntarily to evade diseases, hunger, wars and natural disasters.

Although at that time it involved some political implications, it was not until the 21st century that it took a more political dimension. In recent times however, migration has not only taken political sidelines, it has as well encompassed tribal, national and economic dimensions, leading to an implicit transformation of the globe.

According to information, along with the international flow of capital, information, and technology, migration is one of the forces of change in the world. Approximately 125 million people live outside their country of birth. The United Nations estimates that in the late 1990s, 2.6 million people migrated annually from less developed to developed countries, seeking employment, reuniting with family, or fleeing conflict and persecution as refugees and internally displaced persons.

Migration has economic benefits for both developing and developed countries. In the recent past, there has been an increasing link between migration and development. Research seems to show that money remitted by migrants far exceeds foreign assistance. Most of the research focus on remittances, while others consider the impact of circular and return migration on the role of Diasporas and policy. As a result of this, international migration is widely held as having the potential to immensely facilitate development in poor countries. Many governments are trying to maximise its outcome, thus explaining why it has taken so much a political dimension.

This reality is once again showcased by the 2011 Least Developed Countries report, which was launched recently with a focus on "Harnessing remittances and Diaspora knowledge to build productive capacities of Least Developed Countries". The theme of this year's report indicates that the least developed countries like The Gambia can and are benefiting economically from migration. Let us first be clear in this, stated above is an empirical reality but not a justification for illegal migration.

Whoever wants to set sail for migration must therefore do so according to the rules and procedures of international migration and not otherwise. In addition, let us always remember the effect of brain drain on our countries when we decide to leave for greener pastures.

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