Egyptian citizens abroad sent to Egypt a total of $16.3 billion in remittances between November 2016 – when Egypt floated its currency – and August 2017, registering a 17.35 percent increase compared to the same period the year before, according to data revealed at the Industrial Investment Map in Cairo.
Teuta Grazhdani, the head of Egypt’s Labour Mobility and Human Development at the intergovernmental International Organization for Migration, said that the "remittances have exceeded revenues from Suez Canal, tourism, and direct investment," three of the country's key sources of foreign currency.
The flotation of the Egyptian pound has unified exchange rates and diminished the black market, where foreign currency rates were much higher than in banks. Since the devaluation, many Egyptians have opted to send remittances through legal avenues.
Grazhdani said at the Industrial Investment Map, which aims at promoting foreign investment in Egypt's industrial sector and was hosted by the Ministry of Industry, that Egyptian expats have to be part of the economic development process, and should be empowered with the tools to do so.
"Their remittances should be used as capital for different industrial development projects in Egypt," she said.
Around 9.4 million Egyptians live abroad out of a total population of 104.2 million.
Egypt is in constant need of foreign currency to buy basic foodstuffs and fulfill its international obligations. The country’s foreign reserves registered $36.535 billion at the end of September 2017, hitting pre-2011 levels after years of political turmoil and terrorism brought it down to critical levels.
The country's foreign reserves, which stood at $16.41 billion at the end of October 2015, have been climbing since Egypt signed an agreement for a three-year $12 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in November 2017.
The IMF expects the Egyptian economy to grow 4.5 percent in 2018 from 4.1 percent this year.