Optimising the Role of Sub-Saharan African Remittance Senders in Sustainable Development

  • Jennifer MelvinEmail author
Original Article


Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10 seeks to reduce inequality by limiting the costs of remittances to less than 3% and eliminating corridors, which will cost more than 5% by 2030. Making remittances affordable is timely given that they were three times higher than official development assistance to the developing world in 2016. This comparison between remittances and aid tacitly recognises these migrants as important actors in development. The absence of other references to remittances in the SDGs demands analysis of how remittance senders are conceptualised by other ‘development actors’. This paper examines the complexities and contradictions that obscure the conceptualisation and mobilisation of Sub-Saharan African remittance senders in sustainable development. It is informed by in-depth interviews with officials from a bilateral donor agency and diaspora organisations. It applies a social constructionist framework to understand how the role of remittance senders can be reconceptualised to examine how their interventions impact sustainable development in Africa.


SDGs Sub-Saharan Africa Remittance senders Actor-oriented social constructionist approach Development actors 


L’objectif 10 des ODD vise, d’ici 2030, à réduire les inégalités en baissant le coût des envois de fonds à moins de 3% et en éliminant les corridors, qui coûtent plus de 5%. Rendre les envois de fonds abordables arrive à point nommé, sachant que leur volume financier est trois fois plus élevé que l’aide publique au développement apportée aux pays en développement en 2016. Cette comparaison entre les envois de fonds et l’aide publique reconnaît tacitement les migrants comme des acteurs importants du développement. L’absence de références supplémentaires aux envois de fonds dans les ODD souligne la nécessité d’analyser la manière dont les expéditeurs de fonds sont conceptualisés par d’autres “acteurs du développement”. Cet article étudie la complexité et les contradictions qui occultent la conceptualisation et la mobilisation des expéditeurs de fonds de l’Afrique subsaharienne dans le développement durable. Il s’appuie sur des entretiens approfondis avec des responsables d’un organisme bailleur bilatéral ainsi que d’organisations de la diaspora. Il applique un cadre constructionniste social pour comprendre comment le rôle des expéditeurs de fonds peut être reconceptualisé afin d’examiner l’impact de leurs interventions sur le développement durable en Afrique.


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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Interviews Conducted

  1. Bilateral Donor Participant 1, interview date: 12 April 2017.Google Scholar
  2. Bilateral Donor Participant 2, interview date: 25 April 2017.Google Scholar
  3. Bilateral Donor Participant 3, interview date: 25 April 2017.Google Scholar
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  8. Staff Member 2 Diaspora Organisation East Africa, interview date: 12 May 2017.Google Scholar
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Events Attended

  1. School of Oriental and African Studies: ‘Africa in 2017: Prospects and Forecasts’ attended 11 January 2017.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social SciencesUniversity of RoehamptonLondonUK

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