Nigerians in diaspora constitute a significant proportion of immigrants worldwide. According to the Federal Government, there are over 17 million Nigerians in the Diaspora.
To underscore the importance of the Diaspora to the economy, leading audit firm PwC, in one of its latest reports, revealed that migrant remittances made up 77.2 per cent of last year’s government’s budget and more than 10 times the foreign direct investment (FDI) flows in the same period.
For 2017, World Bank data showed that $22 billion (about N7.9 trillion) was remitted, the highest in Africa.
PwC’s latest White Paper Series, ‘’Strength from abroad: The economic power of Nigeria’s Diaspora’’, estimated that migrant remittances could hit $25.5 billion, $29.8billion and $34.8billion in the year, 2021 and 2023.
Over a 15-year period, PwC said it expected total remittance flows into the country to double from $18.37 billion in 2009 to $34.89 billion in 2023.
PwC Partner/Chief Economist Dr. Andrew S. Nevin reportedly said the establishment of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) by the Federal Government showed that it recognised the importance of Nigerians in Diaspora.
He suggested that the government should formulate and execute a strategy to maximise the benefits of the commission. Studies, according to him, show that 70 per cent of remittances is for consumption, while the balance go to investment-related uses.
The Nation studies showed that though part of these remittances used on consumption goes for family upkeep and other needs, a large chunk of the cash is meant for residential development back home.
Experts, however, believe that if the money is channelled through the established mortgage system, it would deepen the industry while Nigerians in Diaspora would be able to access mortgages to own houses back home.
In realisation of the important role Diaspora mortgages can play in deepening mortgage finance in Nigeria, the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) in 2014 developed the Diaspora Mortgage Product targeted at Nigerians living abroad to give them an opportunity to participate and benefit from the National Housing Find (NHF) scheme. The loan window offers them mortgage loans to build or buy houses in Nigeria.
To further deepen access to finance for residential housing development for Nigerians in Diaspora, the NiDCOM and the FMBN have joined forces to initiate a Diaspora mortgage programme where Nigerians in the Diaspora can have their homes without going through a third party.
Speaking during a recent visit to FMBN by a team from NiDCOM led by its Chairman/CEO Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the CEO of the bank, Ahmed Musa Dangiwa, said the visit was timely as the bank was engaging Nigerians in the Diaspora on mortgage products developed for Nigerians living abroad.
He said the bank had made presentations on Diaspora mortgages in the United Kingdom and the United States and had received positive responses and visits from the engagements abroad.
He said: “Although the product has been fully developed, we invite you to feel free to make inputs as we will be happy to share from your wealth of experience in dealing with Nigerians in the Diaspora.”
In her response, Mrs Dabiri-Erewa said the major challenge of an average Diasporan, after passport, is housing.
She said the commission intended to partner the FMBN to develop a Diaspora mortgage programme in which Nigerians in the Diaspora can have their houses back home at a reasonable interest rate and without going through a third party.