East Africa can attract $2 bln remittances in 2010

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East Africa could attract more than $2 billion in remittances in 2010 and should direct this money to investment rather than consumption, the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) said.

“If regional peace and stability was assured in the East African region then remittances would surpass the $2 billion mark over the year,” Antonio Pedro, director of the UNECA sub-regional office said.

The World Bank estimates that remittances to the five countries in East Africa fell last year to $2.1 billion, from $2.3 billion in 2008, as they were hit by the global economic downturn.

Kenyans abroad sent home $609 million in 2009, down slightly from a record $611 million a year before, according to Central Bank of Kenya statistics.

Uganda’s remittances fell to $414 million in 2008/09 from a high of $547 million in 2007/08, according to the Bank of Uganda. However, the amount still exceeded all other sources of inflows in the current account.

The World Bank says Uganda is the second-largest recipient of remittances in East Africa after Kenya.

Rwanda and Burundi reported growth in amounts sent home by their citizens living abroad, according to a UNECA study presented by Pedro on Wednesday.
“Figures from Bank du Burundi show that the country registered remittances inflows of only $41,000 in 2004 but (that) increased dramatically to about $4.5 million by November 2009,” the UNECA report said.

The report said Tanzania’s official current transfers amounted to $811.8 million in 2008, but only $443.9 million in the year ending October 2009. Recorded remittances amounted to only $18 million in the year ending October 2009.

Pic: World Bank building

Source: www.af.reuters.com