I am on a short private trip to the U.K, to meet the family and party supporters. I am very humbled by the receptions I received in London and yesterday in Birmingham. I am greatly touched with all the hospitality and kind words. Below is my short observation of the Gambian diaspora. I salute you all.
GAMBIAN DIASPORA’S ROLE IN THE DEMOCRATIC CHANGE
The total number of Gambians in diaspora from conventional sources such as the world bank and IMF, is in the region of 135, 000 or 7% of the total population. This does not take into account the number of influx into Europe through the backway.
You are not an ordinary segment of our population.
Of this number, you have a significant proportion that are highly educated and skilled segment. Not to mention the youthful nature of this composition of the number.
Contributions in terms of remittances alone to the Gambia accounts for 12% of the GDP. And this is through the official banking and foreign exchange bureaus.
—–Other impacts include direct support of families, neighbors, communities, schools, hospitals/health centers and mosques/masjids, and Churches (the list is not exhaustive).
In return you get our individual and communal acknowledgements and ‘dua’.
Now unlike Senegalese diaspora, your political capital need to be transform and your power base utilized to something politically formidable. Imagine the number of people you can influence in registering to vote against the incumbent.
Contribution of the Gambian Diaspora To The Gambia’s Economy
· The contributions of remittances from Gambians living in the Diaspora to the country’s economy is huge. In essence, and without hesitation, the Gambia’s ailing economy is being sustained by the people in the Diaspora.
· Recent figures from the Central Bank of the Gambia has shown that remittance of Gambians in the Diaspora has grown significantly over the last decade from a mere 2.5 per cent to nearly 10 per cent of the country’s GDP around 2013.
· As we speak, a 2014 data from Central Bank indicate that inflows that are channeled through the recognized money exchange bureaus amounts to more than 85 million dollars. Now if you look at the money that go through the unofficial channels, we can safely say that Gambians living in the diaspora are contributing to the cumulative figure of more than $100 million dollars to the Gambian economy annually.
· In the past, tourism and the export of peanuts, cotton and other agricultural products were the main source of foreign exchange in the Gambia. However, Central Bank data has shown that remittance of Gambians living abroad has now become the single largest source of foreign exchange for the country.
· Now it is safe to say that it is you people in the diaspora who are sustaining the construction industry, housing development and other development activities that the Gambia is witnessing now.
· The same also goes for the retail and wholesale trading sector. Without your remittances, this sector too would have collapsed.
· I believe no responsible government would side-line the diaspora. The government needs to improve the regulatory aspect of payment infrastructure to reduce the cost of remittances that you and Gambians bear.
· Government should also reduce the fee money transfer operators charge for remittance to increase inflows of remittances.
Diaspora now have to concretely play their part in politic. The number involve in politics is very small, and that have to change. Whatever changes we are fighting is impacting on all of us. Therefore, I urge diaspora to significantly get involve in the political life of the country and contribute in enhancing the utility of their respective political parties. I thank the event organisers in Birmingham, the gathering in London and all the private visitors. UDP is alive and strong today more than ever. Together, with your commitment and involvement, the end is in sight, let us not lose hope and determination. A special appreciation to Alkali Conteh for travelling all the way from the U.S to meet me in England, and to all my team here in U.K under the stewardship of Mr Kanjura Kanyi. Thank you everyone.
Lawyer Ousainou Darboe
Secretary General of UDP