London — Nigerians living abroad, who remitted $21 billion home last year, rank among citizens of the top five countries that remitted about $530 billion to their countries in 2012, showing a tremendous increase from the previous year.
In the latest ranking by the World Bank, India led the pack, followed by China, Philippines, Mexico and Nigeria in the fifth position.
Figures show that India and China received $60 billion from their citizens abroad, Philippines ($24 billion), Mexico ($24 billion), and Nigeria ($21 billion). Others who also joined the top 10 include Egypt, the sixth largest, with about $18 billion remittance last year, indicating an astronomical surge from $9 billion in 2008. It is believed that the surge is perhaps driven by increased support by migrants to their families in the face of political uncertainty or savings brought by returning migrants.
The remittances of $530 billion last year by the migrants outstripped the World Bank's projection for the period, which were expected to reach $406 billion in 2012, a growth of 6.5 per cent over the previous year. These flows are expected to rise to 8 per cent in 2013 and 10 per cent in 2014 to reach $534 billion in 2015.
Analysts believed the rise in remittances from Nigerians in the Diaspora is being done to enable them subscribe to a Diaspora bond being planned by the Ministry of Finance. Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in September 2011, had announced in Washington the plans by the Federal Government to issue the Diaspora bond in a bid to secure alternative means of funding critical infrastructural projects in Nigeria.
A Diaspora bond is a debt instrument issued by a country or a private corporation to raise financing from its citizens in foreign countries.
However, the remittances come at a high cost to migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, which the World Bank identified as the most expensive region to send remittance to, with a transfer costing in the third quarter of 2012 about 12.4 per cent of the amount transferred. This is almost twice the corresponding figure of 6.5 per cent for South Asia.
According to the World Bank, the new figures for 2012 now surpassed the international community global aid for development, poverty reduction, healthcare and other strategic sectors.
Head of the World Bank Migration and Remittance Unit, Dilip Ratha, was quoted to have said that there is a likelihood of billions of some of the remittances not being documented as migrants might have channelled or transferred their funds through non-official means, to avoid documentation.
According to the World Bank, over 215 million people, about 3 per cent of the world's population, live outside their countries of birth. Remittances by them are considered three times the size of official development assistance and provide an important lifeline for millions of poor households in their countries.
The bank estimated that the migrants, if they were all to reside in a country, will be far bigger than most countries, even with the possibility of becoming the fifth most populous nation, following only China, India, America and Indonesia.
The United Kingdom, the United States of America, European countries and Asia nations are the top regions where most of the funds were remitted back home by migrants workers.