Thirty academics and government officials* were trained on the use of remittances and diasporas for development at a workshop in Dakar hosted by Vi core member in Senegal, Université Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD), March 2-4.
The workshop, delivered by Rolf Traeger, Chief of UNCTAD's LDC Section, aimed to analyze economic aspects of international migration and its potential contribution to home countries - in particular Senegal - and to discuss national and international policies susceptible of enhancing this contribution.
“Over the last ten years, workers' remittances have amounted to as much as 10 per cent of Senegal's GDP. They have also exceeded other major sources of foreign exchange, namely official development assistance, inflows of foreign direct investment and private loans”, said Traeger.
During the workshop, the participants learnt about the types, causes and trends of migration, brain drain and brain circulation, and their impact on home and host countries.
Traeger then introduced them to the policies the home countries can put in place to attract remittances and to benefit from the potential represented by diasporas to advance their economic development. Additionally, a session was dedicated to international migration policies.
Participants concurred that the workshop had considerably strengthened their knowledge of migration-related problematique.
"The knowledge and information I have acquired during these past three days equal, in my view, to one year of research. All the elements related to migration have been addressed, going even beyond what I was expecting", noted a participant.
Participants also worked in groups to reflect on the effects of migration on Senegal, and the country's policies in the area of international migration.
"What was the most interesting during the workshop were the discussions," wrote Ndiack Fall, who coordinated the organization of the workshop on behalf of UCAD. "At the end of each day, we held discussions among the participants which generated very important ideas, such as the need to put in place a structure in the home country that would orient the remittances towards productive activities".
During the workshop, Traeger also provided individual consultations to PhD students seeking advice on their research projects.
A number of participants already have plans to put the workshop knowledge to productive use, for instance in writing PhD dissertations and research papers on topics related to migration in Senegal, remittances and foreign direct investment, and the link between migration and poverty.
For instance, a PhD student at UCAD said: "I will use (the workshop knowledge) in drafting the three papers for my PhD dissertation. I will first analyze the determinants of migration, then the impact of a reallocation of remittances from consumption to investment on economic growth, and finally, in the third paper, I will investigate migration policies."
Others intend to enrich their courses, but also to provide inputs on migration-related issues to the government.
As Fall concluded: "The workshop was very rich in ideas and allowed the participants to deepen their knowledge of the impact of migration on home and host countries. We now wish that this knowledge could translate into a research programme on this problematique,"
* From Université Cheikh Anta Diop, Institut Universitaire de l'Entreprise et du Développement, and the Ministry of Professional Education.