Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Morocco tops Maghreb region in remittances

Moroccan officials have heralded a significant increase in the amount of money Moroccan expatriates are sending home. Government efforts are underway to encourage Moroccans living abroad to increase their investments at home, and to allay concerns about bureaucracy and corruption. With money sent home by Moroccan migrants reaching $5.7 billion in 2007, Morocco came in second, behind Egypt, on the recent World Bank list of the top 10 MENA remittance recipient countries. Neighbouring Algeria ($2.9 billion) came in at number five. In fact according to the World Bank, remittances constituted 9.5% of GDP in Morocco in 2006.

Money transfers by Moroccans living abroad have been on the rise for several years running. They are already up to 25.8 billion dirhams for the first six months in 2008

According to the Moroccan Centre for Economics, "Fund transfers made by Moroccan expatriates are a major consideration for the Moroccan economy, not just as a way of supporting household revenues, but also, and more importantly, as a source of extra savings and an essential source of foreign currency."

Moroccan officials who have been pleased with the benefits of the money transfers are bound to become even happier, thanks to a new agreement signed last week with other Arab nations,.

Morocco joined postal operators in Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen on August 4th in an accord allowing electronic money transfer services through technology developed by the United Nations postal agency, the Universal Postal Union (UPU).

"The postal agency has been trying to improve access for rural populations to secure and reliable money transfer services through formal channels – rather than the traditional informal methods," a UPU statement said.

Moroccan officials understand the importance the money transfers and have encouraged expatriates to invest in Morocco in order to contribute to the social and economic development of their country of origin.

Head of the Council of the Moroccan Community Overseas (CCME) Mohamed Ameur has said that one of his ministry's most important tasks is working with Moroccan expatriates to "promote investment and harness skills".

Along with remittances, expatriates have begun to play an active role in sectors such as agriculture, tourism and ICT.

Many Moroccan expatriates, however, have voiced dissatisfaction with conditions governing investment in their country of origin.

Salah Bourja, who settled in France, told Magharebia that "expatriates who want to invest in their home country are confronted with a number of obstacles, including bureaucracy and corruption."

No comments: