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15.09.2004 General News

Diasporans send home one billion dollars annually

By GNA

Accra, Sept. 15, GNA - Ghanaians living abroad could be sending back home as much as one billion dollars annually. According to Dr Valentino Mazzucato, a researcher working on the Ghana Transnational Network Research Programme (Ghana Transnet), estimates of remittances for Ghana range from 500 million dollars according to World Bank sources to one billion dollars, which were estimates of the IMF and the Bank of Ghana. Ghana Transnet is financed by the Dutch National Science Foundation.

Dr Mazzucato said in a paper presented at the Conference on Migration and Development in Accra that the importance of remittances from migrants to their homes was gaining increasing recognition internationally. The programme studied remittances within 30 networks of Ghanaian migrants based in the Netherlands from June 2003 to July 2004. The findings found that the Ashanti, Eastern and Greater Accra regions receive the most remittances from Ghanaian migrants. Many remittances or overseas transfers are made to urban areas and then distributed to other locations.

According to Dr Mazzucato, who is also a lecturer at the University of Amsterdam, it was difficult to get accurate estimates about remittances from abroad from the national data or the Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS). "What is needed is a national survey that is specifically designed to capture detailed data about remittances, while concomitantly surveying Ghanaians in overseas destinations.

"Information should be collected not only on remittances accruing to individuals and households as the GLSS currently does, but also on remittances spent for funerals and other ceremonies and community development projects."

Dr E.K.Y. Addison, Director of Research, Bank of Ghana, said studies conducted on the main use of remittances worldwide and in Ghana in particular, suggested that a large part of these funds are used for daily expenses such as food, clothing and health care. "Some of these funds are also spent on the construction of houses, buying of lands and performing of funerals." Dr Addison said the policy challenge was "leveraging remittances funds towards development through forging alliances".

The three-day conference, which opened on Tuesday, is exploring multi-faceted issues related to migration and development within the context of the economic and social development of Ghana. The United Nations Development Programme, Institute of African Studies and the Royal Netherlands Embassy are organising the meeting. Among topics being treated are overseas remittances and brain drain. One aim of the meeting is geared towards ensuring that migration becomes mutually beneficial to the sending as well as receiving countries.

The conference would try to discover the linkages between migration and development and to ensure that migration becomes mutually beneficial to the sending as well as receiving countries.

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