Many of our readers will be very concerned at the report in
today's paper which indicates that remittances to West
Africa are set to fall in 2009.
Here in The Gambia we still depend very heavily on money
coming back from Europe
and the United States
and any change in this could leave many facing financial ruin. The other major
concern at the moment is the exchange rate.
The English pound, the dollar and the Euro are all now
bringing in less Dalasi then they had been. The pound particularly remains in
or around D40, sometimes lower, but it was only last year that it was brining
The result is that at a time when prices are rising at an
horrific rate the money coming back from Europe
and the US
is buying even less then it was when prices were lower.
Of course this situation will not only affect us here in The
Gambia. Many of our neighbours in West Africa
will also be affected.
The World Bank's latest migration and development brief,
published on 11 November, says remittance income in developing countries will
decline by about 1 percent from 2008 to 2009.
Dilip Ratha, lead economist and manager of the migration and
remittances team at the World Bank, told IRIN the drop could be far sharper. "A
worst-case scenario would bring them down by as much as 6 percent."
Remittances to sub-Saharan Africa
had been rising steadily since 1995, increasing by 11 percent between 2006 and
2007. Sub-Saharan Africa
took in US$19 billion in remittances in 2007, or 2.5 percent of gross domestic
according to the World Bank.
Worldwide $265 billion flowed to developing countries
through remittances in 2007, surpassing official global development aid by 60
percent, the World Bank says.
It is clear that we are facing a crisis in this regard but
unfortunately it is one over which we have little control. All we can do is try
to ensure that we boost our income from other areas, become more self
sufficient and try to generate alternative sources of income for those people
who will be affected by this.
is our madness, our vast collective madness"