The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Geoffery Onyeama has said that for decade’s Diaspora remittances were largely unnoticed features of the global economy.
Fluctuating exchange rates and poor infrastructures are some of the challenges issues rendering diaspora investment in Nigeria.
Onyeama who stated this in Lagos at the a dialogue on optimising Nigeria’s Diaspora Remittances for Development organized by Dalberg Nigeria and UK Aids Policy Development Facility (PDF II); he noted that Nigeria is the largest recipient of remittances in Sub-Saharan Africa, it could be as a result of the population size and consequently through the size of its diaspora.
The Minister who was represented by Mrs. Folake Abudrasak,said that the Nigerian in Diaspora has a large stake in the economic growth of Nigeria. This could be supported by the figures produced by the CBN, IOM, World Bank among others, which highlighted the magnitude of remittances flows to Nigeria. These could equally explain why in the recent time Nigeria government policies are being directed at increasingly engaging the Nigerian Diaspora.
He stressed that Diaspora entrepreneurship and investments are often hailed as drivers of economic development and positive change in the world and Nigeria is not exceptional. There is enough evidence to support that for instance 80 percent of FDI in China is from the Chinese diaspora, Indian diasporas in the USA have played an instrumental role in building up India’s IT industry.
The Minister explained that it is worth nothing that for most countries of the world desirous to engage the diaspora, small or large about one percent of their total budget were spent on its citizens abroad. This commendable investment is crucial to maintaining Nigerian government-diaspora relationship. This is in view of promoting a better partnership for the overall development of the country. In this regards, lesson can be drawn from the experience of some other countries such as India, China, Italy, Philippines among others that have implemented diaspora policies in the advancement of economic development and nation building.
“To us in Ministry of Foreign Affairs we are looking into the situation contextually with the view to developing techniques and models that will enhance the positive impact of remittances on the development in Nigeria. For instance, The Nigerian Economic Diplomacy Initiative was spurred by the need to use modern diplomacy as a tool towards re-engineering economic growth and development through the facilitation of increased market access by way of Foreign Direct Investments across border. The Initiative equally aspires to contribute rapidly to the Economic Recovery Growth Plan of the Federal Government to facilitate global market access for the millions of skilled Nigerians in Diaspora” Onyeama said,
He said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nigerian in collaboration with appropriate MDAs is ready to partner and cooperate with the developmental organizations like PDF II, the esteemed participants, in order to achieve the desired objectives of the optimizing Nigeria’s Diaspora remittances for development.
He assured that Ministry’s readiness to robustly engage with all participants to this conference with the view to attain the laudable objectives of the dialogue as we are already committed to.
While presenting the executive summary of Nigeria Diaspora Study at the program, Dalberg Global Development Advisors, said that the study looked at three models of engagement: remittances from the diaspora to Nigeria, direct investments into Nigeria made by the diaspora and the diaspora’s promotion of investment in Nigeria.
They said that the study also outlined key motivations, needs, and barriers that shaped and still shape remittance and investing behaviours of Nigeria’s diaspora. Key statistics from the study include: 31 percent of respondents invested in Nigeria; 42 percent of first-generation respondents out of the said 31percent invest in Nigeria more than five times the rate of second-generation investors.
They explained that investment patterns emerging from the study also revealed that first-generation, UK-based, male respondents were more likely to be remitters and were also more likely to invest in Nigeria than any other group. “Overall, the most frequently cited barrier to investing in Nigeria is lack of sufficient available capital and difficulty in identifying trustworthy investment opportunities”.