May 19, 2020

Nigeria Economic Update (Issue 17)

The total direct remittance inflow into Nigeria has declined considerably, falling by 50% from US$2.04 billion to US$1.01 billion between January and February 20201. This is significantly lower than 2019 levels, as a total of US$23 billion was remitted in 2019, making Nigeria the highest recipient within the sub-Saharan African region2. However, with many of its citizens resident in the diaspora residing in countries that have been severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic including Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States, their ability to work and thus remit funds has been significantly limited. Given that remittance is a major source of income for vulnerable households in developing countries, this recent development could increase poverty and further widen inequality. In the coming months, remittance flows are expected to continue declining as a recent World Bank report noted that flows to low- and middle-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa will fall by 23.1% in 20202. In order to mitigate against the impact on vulnerable households, the government should provide additional social safety nets for the poor and ensure that the distribution mechanism of the cash transfer programme is efficient and equitable.

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