By Ndey Sowe
Interim figures show that 2022 diaspora remittances to The Gambia stand at seven hundred and twelve million, four hundred and fifty thousand (712,450,000) US dollars, which amounts to 60% of GDP.
This was disclosed by Dr. Abdoulie Sireh Jallow, the First Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of The Gambia on Saturday 14th January 2023, during the Sixty Stake in the National Forum (SNF6), held at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre.
Dr. Jallow stated this while speaking at the forum on the on the theme: “supporting private action for public benefit”, organised by the Migration and Sustainable Development in The Gambia (MSDG) project.
“For 2022, the interim remittance inflow to The Gambia was seven hundred and twelve million, four hundred and fifty thousand US dollars. Even though this represented a contraction of 8% relative to the previous year, it is significant. The contraction is partly due to increased utilization of informal sectors or channels to send money, because of Covid restrictions globally. As a result, some of the remittances were not captured in the formal system in our official statistics,” Dr. Jallow outlined.
The 2022 official diaspora remittances decreased compared to the year 2021, which increased to an unprecedented level of $773.7 million, from $589.81 million in 2020, recording an increase of 31.3%. The 2021 remittance volume was equivalent to D40.65 billion, which represented 62.9% of the country’s annual GDP. In 2018, total remittance represented 277 billion, with 18% growth in 2019 which was $328 million, or 31% of the GDP.
In 2020, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, remittance volume reached 47% of GDP, and in 2021, a record $773.7 million was received or 62.9% of the GDP.
Dr. Jallow said the diaspora in particular has been very instrumental in the transmission of remittances to The Gambia, and as such, its members are considered very important stakeholders in improving the lives and livelihoods of Gambians.
“Remittances continue to play a pivotal role in the economic development of the country and its economic impact cannot be overemphasized,” Dr. Jallow indicated. He said over the years, official statistics on remittances recorded substantial inflows of funds providing direct economic benefits to Gambians from all works of life.
Dr. Jallow also outlined that remittances are a key source foreign exchange for the Gambia and have considerable impacts for the country’s Central Bank. Furthermore, several studies have established a strong link between remittances and financial inclusion.
And with The Gambia targeting to include 70% of its adult population in the formal financial sector by 2025, Dr. Jallow opined that the inflow of remittances can serve as an important catalyst for inclusion of the unbanked sector into the financial system of the country.
In this context, Dr Jallow said The Central Bank of The Gambia has granted licences to foreign exchange bureaus and micro-finance institutions, to extend their operations to the remote parts of the country in order to increase access to finance irrespective of economic circumstances.
“The flow of remittances has grown considerably in The Gambia in the five-year period between 2017 and 2021, and it has grown by more than three folds. This is quite significant and further substantiates the impact that the diaspora and remittances has on the country’s economy,” Dr. Jallow said. He assured that the Central Bank as the custodian of the financial system of the country, will ensure that suitable policies are designed to ensure that all stakeholders derive the maximum benefit from the financial system.
The SNF is a unique mix of diaspora homecoming, policy forum, technical workshops, and professional networking in a one day dialogue between diaspora-development practitioners, government and non-State actors.
SNF which is mandated as an annual consultative event in The Gambian Diaspora Strategy and Gambia National Development Plan, brings diaspora groups together to engage with government ministries, departments and agencies as well as NGOs and CSOs, on a wide range of development matters in order to contribute towards a formal policy, as well as strategic, thematic and sectoral consultation initiatives by different government and quasi-government institutions. It is envisaged that the event will generate ideas and solutions on how to leverage the private sector and the diaspora, towards enhancing economic development.