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Egypt Has the Largest Number of People Living Abroad in Africa: IOM Report

December 18, 2022

Every year on December 18, International Migrants Day is observed with the goal of spotlighting the social and economic circumstances of migrants around the world.

The experience of migration continues to evolve over the years, as the movement of people around the world is influenced by a myriad of factors, including governments’ decision making and increasing economic insecurity.

As per the World Migration Report 2022, 281 million people are international migrants living in a country other than their place of birth, which equates to 3.6 per cent of the global population.

Though there is a common belief that migrants only go from developing to developed nations, there is a rising trend of migrant workers moving across emerging nations in the same region, particularly in the Middle East.

They are also known to provide support remittances, known as sums or commodities sent to families in the family of origin. In recent years, this financial support has become a vital source of foreign money for communities in developing economy countries; the income has widely been used to assist with procurement of food as well as covering medical, educational and housing expenses.

In Egypt’s case, remittances witnessed an unprecedented increase of 72 percent between 2015 and 2021, according to Egypt’s Information and Decision Support Center. The total number of Egyptians living abroad has reached around 9 million, living mostly in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the UAE.

Economic challenges in Egypt have made sustaining livelihoods more difficult, as Egypt’s inflation rate rose this year to a five-year high of 18.7 percent in November. This is worsened by the persistent devaluation of the pound, as the pound reached a record low in October, devaluing by more than 14 percent against the US dollar.

The report also revealed that in 2020, Egypt was among the top five remittance recipient countries, receiving USD 29.60 billion (EGP 729 billion); it had  the largest number of people living abroad in the Africa region, followed by Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia and Algeria.

Commenting on countries’ “overreliance” on international remittances, the report warned that international remittances may develop a culture of dependency, which could reduce labour force participation and limit economic progress, as the economy becomes more susceptible to unforeseen fluctuations in remittance.

On the other hand, a recent study found that a 10 percent increase in remittance is associated with a 0.66% permanent increase in GDP. Remittances can also help struggling families in developing countries have better access to credit and investment, a World Bank blog notes.

Remittances are usually primarily sent from high-income nations. With a total outflow of USD 68 billion (EGP 1,676 billion) in 2020, the United States continues to lead the world in being the source of remittances, followed by the United Arab Emirates, USD 43.2 billion (EGP 1,064 billion), and Saudi Arabia, USD 34.6 billion (EGP 852 billion).

Egypt has been exerting efforts to forge stronger and more sustainable ties with its expatriates over the years.

For instance, Egypt’s Ministry of Emigration and Expatriates launched a number of initiatives over the years. One such example is managing labour migration from Egypt by matching job seekers with employers through a web-based database at www.emigration.gov.eg, where Egyptian jobseekers can upload their CVs to the site and employers can post their job vacancies.

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