Official data available estimates about 146 million Africans living abroad. With the population of Africa estimated at around 1.2 billion people, this implies about 12% of us live outside of the continent. These 12% remitted circa US$78 billion back to Africa in 2020. Quick arithmetic shows that the remittance per capita is about $534. The per capita remittance of Nigerians is $988 from the estimated 17 million Nigerians living abroad. When we compare these per capita numbers to that of the Lebanese community @ $664 (of the estimated 17 million Lebanese, about 11 million live in diaspora) and the Jewish community of $565 from the US (5.7 million Jews live in the US alone when compared to the population of Israel of 6.7million people), versus GDP per capita of Africa at $2,569; Nigeria at $2,097; Lebanon at $4,891 and Israel at $43,610. It shows a very clear role for the African diaspora beyond remittances. Our research shows that these other diaspora communities do a lot more than remit money back home. They are involved in skills development & knowledge transfer, collaborative research & innovation, investment & trade & product exchange. Africa needs her people who live abroad to do much more than remittances. From our IT professionals (there are only 690,000 software developers in Africa from her compared to 628,000 in California alone) to doctors, scientists and other professionals, the possibilities that can be unlocked are endless.
Changing the African narrative requires everyone to get involved. Home or abroad. Our dignity and future depend on all of us being nation builders. There is little government can do. People build their countries. Go through history and let’s not confuse Chinese growth over the last 4 decades as a government-centric one alone. Our governments are a reflection of who we are. The African opportunity is the biggest catch-up story in history. We have more foreigners investing in our start-ups, companies, and innovation than us Africans. Let’s get the money we have put under our bedsheets and bank accounts working. Inflation and devaluation risks of the money in bank accounts or at home are not better than business risks of an investment in start-ups. Data shows that while 70% of start-ups fail, the 30% that succeed compensate for the ones that fail and deliver real returns which exceed the yield on savings which is often exposed to inflation and devaluation. I am not asking us not to save; informed and enlightened investment in start-ups, equities, and innovation are also savings. Stock gambling isn’t an investment. Get advice where and when in doubt. The real return on long-term positions in equity (public and private) outperforms pure savings.
Africans let us collaborate more, invest in each other, share knowledge, engender skills transfer and have a more positive mindset about ourselves and our future. Our children deserve our best effort. Remember the future starts today. Start creating the future you want to live in.