Family Support Another Kind of African Aid

African migrants living in Germany send over one billion euros back to their home countries every year, according to a new survey.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel with Nigerian President Mahamadou Issoufou during her three-nation Africa tour in October 2016.

Since the dawn of the refugee crisis, Germany has invested highly in development aid for Africa, making the continent a priority for its G20 presidency this year. In November, Berlin promised an extra €61 million ($67 million) in funding for UN relief operations in Africa in order to confront the corruption, human rights abuses and debilitating poverty that has seen hundreds of thousands flee to Europe in the hopes of a better life.

But there is another contribution from Europe's largest economy which largely goes unnoticed: the money sent back home from African migrants itself.

Those with African roots send an estimated €1.2 billion ($1.3 billion) from Germany back to their families in their home countries every year. According to a recent survey conducted by the non-profit African Network of Germany (TANG), 90 percent send money.

TANG consulted 961 people from 38 African nations living in Germany, including Nigeria, Tunisia, Senegal and Ghana. Almost 30 percent said they send as much as €5,000 to €10,000 annually. In Germany, the average household disposable income is about €35,483 ($31, 925) a year according to the OECD, although the International Monetary Fund reckons that new immigrant workers earn about 20 percent less than natives.

Besides UN contributions, Berlin also invests some €1.5 billion into other areas such as vocational training programs and climate protection measures in Africa, according to German news agency DPA.

Despite this, it is proving to be a hard battle from longstanding stagnation into political and economic stability. The IMF expects the continent's overall economy to grow by just a meager three percent this year, counteracted by a population growth of 2.6 percent.

Africa GDP

Barbara Woolsey writes for Handelsblatt Global in Berlin. To contact the author: [email protected]