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Ethiopia’s earnings from remittances have reached an unprecedented level, announced the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In 2015 alone, the country has received USD 3.7 billion in remittance which, the ministry said, has surpassed the income gained from the export sector in the same year.
Making the announcement, Demeke Atnafu, Director General of the Diaspora Information and Research Directorate at the Ministry, said the country has never received remittance amounting this level.
Remittance earnings in the fiscal year also exceeded funds the nation has received from donors in the same year, he added.
While speaking during a High-level Diaspora Policy Dialogue, Demeke said the country plans to maximize the level of foreign remittance over the coming years as potentials in the sector have not been fully exploited.
“Ethiopia’s remittance service is still at a low level compared with other countries,” the official said referring to India’s earnings of USD 70 billion in 2014.
He said maximum effort should be exerted to change that scenario.
Mentioning the factors for the increment, Demeke indicated that ‘‘Western Union and Money Gram were the dominant money transfer service providers which signed agreements with the National Bank. Nowadays, the number of money transfer providers is increasing.’’
Mussie Delelegn, Chief of Land Locked Developing Countries Section in the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), said that 40 percent of the remittance Ethiopia has received has come from North America.
The diaspora who send money to their families are helping their families and contributing to the economy of their country of origin as well, Mussie stressed.
Illegal migration is hampering efforts to raise earnings from remittance as most Ethiopians who reside especially in South Africa and Saudi Arabia were not able to send money legally since they do not have residence and work permits. These groups of people are forced to use illegal money transfer systems, according to representatives of Regional Diaspora Affaires office. It was indicated that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Diaspora Directorate is working with the National Bank of Ethiopia to alleviate problems related with illegal migrants’ remittance service.