New Delhi: In a trend
that may work adversely on remittances to India and the region,
Gulf nations are now increasingly hiring Africans over Indians,
Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Nepalis, a move that can slow down
the migration boom from the subcontinent since the early 1990s.
"Migration from Africa to the Gulf region will increase
significantly in coming years," said Dilip Ratha, an expert on
migration and remittance issues with the World Bank. "The Africans
are giving tough competition to our expatriates," Ratha told IANS.
He said governments of most Gulf countries have also directed
companies and institutions to diversify the source of workers.
"They are becoming very sensitive to diversity after the recent
unrest in some of the Arab states," Ratha added over phone from
Indians are the largest expatriate community in most of the Gulf
countries and are said to number around six million. In some Gulf
nations like the UAE and Qatar, the population of Indian
expatriates is higher than the indigenous population.
Migration from the Indian subcontinent to the Gulf countries
increased exponentially after the oil boom that started in the
Ratha said even though most Gulf firms and administrators feel
comfortable dealing with expatriates from the Indian subcontinent,
cost also is a major factor. "Indian workers are demanding higher
pays now because of better opportunities back home."
"African governments are also strengthening their ties with the
Gulf states and pushing for liberal labour laws," said the expert,
who is otherwise based out of the World Bank's headquarters in
"In Africa, the migration is mostly intra-regional. Almost
two-thirds of international migration from Africa is within
Africa," Ratha said. "As a result, remittance flows to African
countries have remained largely unaffected due to global
Despite the crises in North Africa and the difficult situation in
Europe, the US and the Gulf region, remittance flows to
Sub-Saharan Africa are estimated to have increased by 7.4 percent
in 2011, according to a World Bank report.
"Traditionally, Africans have been less sensitive to what is
happening to economies and job markets outside. So remittances
also largely remain unaffected because of external factors. But
the things are likely to change as they are now moving outside
India otherwise ranks first in terms of inward remittances from
diaspora. According to World Bank data, remittances flow to India
is expected to increase to $58 billion in 2011, compared to around
$55 billion in the previous year.
(Gyanendra Kumar Keshri can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org