By Ndey Sowe
Seeku Jaabi, the first Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of The Gambia (CBG), said the 2021 diaspora remittance volume has increased to an unprecedented level of $773.7 million, from $589.81 million in 2020 recording an increase of 31.3%.
Mr. Jaabi made this remark on Saturday, 8 January, 2021 during the Fifth Stake in the National Forum (SNF5), held at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Center in Bijilo, under the theme: “Consolidating and Accelerating National Development”, organised by the Migration and Sustainable Development in The Gambia (MSDG) project.
“The 2021 remittances volume is equivalent to D40.65 billion, which represents 62.9% of the annual GDP. In 2018 the total remittance represented 277 billion, with as 18% growth in 2019 which is $328 million, representing 31% of the GDP. In 2020, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, remittance volumes reached at $89 million or 47% of the GDP, and in 2021, a record $773.7 million was received or 62.9% of the GDP,” Deputy Governor Jaabi said.
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 matter to contribute towards a formal policy, as well as strategic, thematic and sectorial consultations initiatives by different Government and quasi-government institutions.
Mr. Jaabi added that despite the global pandemic, the Central Bank of The Gambia has considered improving its data recording methodologies by encouraging market operators to supply relevant data in respect to remittances.
“Because of the high accuracy of the data, both the IMF and World Bank now rely on the Central Bank of the Gambia data as the authoritative data for analysis and reporting,” Mr Jaabi remarked; that CBG will further work on remittances with partners to disaggregate the data into construction, consumption, education, health, agriculture among others, to inform policy on the use of remittances.
Professor Gibril Faal, Director for the project on Migration and Sustainable Development in the Gambia (MSDG), said 2021 has been a year that the Gambia witnessed the most democratic elections ever, and underscored the hope of the diaspora in voting during the said elections.
Representing the President on this ocassion, Badara Joof, the Minister of Higher Education, Research Science and Technology, said from the first edition of the SNF forum held on 13 January, 2018, the President stated that “we must be vigilant for the opportunity of infrastructural-led development and the opportunity of diaspora-development”; adding since then, his Government has completed a number of major infrastructure projects in rural and urban Gambia.
Mr. Joof noted that the President is humbled by how these developments are positively improving and transforming the lives and livelihoods of citizens and communities.
For his part, Professor Faal anticipated that the Attorney General and Minister of Justice provide some framework to the diaspora for their participation in forthcoming elections and emphasised on the implementation and practicality of policies, plans and ideas.
Professor Faal also hailed the role of the Gambian Diaspora in national development citing the national football team as one example.
Mambury Njie, the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, said his ministry will continue to partner with the MSDG project in mainstreaming diaspora finance and introducing innovative financial products to attract diaspora investments.
“As part of efforts to streamline diaspora bonds in our financing strategy, management and the directorate of the Ministry of Finance has prepared a medium-term debt management strategy that is from 2022 to 2026, that incorporates issuing a diaspora bond for infrastructure financing,” Mambury Njie stated; adding in November 2021, the Capital Market Bill was ratified and legislated into act, and that this is a significant milestone in promoting innovative financial solutions from debt to equity financing, to bridge the infrastructural deficiencies in the country.
“In a strive to prepare the market for long dated debt instrument like the diaspora bond, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs has successfully issued D2.3 billion for a three-year Government bond and D2 billion for a five-year bond in 2021, and both were successful in attracting a subscription rate of over 200 percent, with a single digit weighted interest rate,” Mr. Njie remarked.
For the information of the readership, a Diaspora Bond is a debt instrument issued by a country or a private corporation, to raise finance from its oversea diaspora.