- An international forum on remittances to Africa has endorsed a series of recommendations to reduce transfer costs and exploit the potential of remittances as a development tool in the continent.
The Global Forum on Remittances, co-hosted by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the African Development Bank (AfDB), which ended recently in Tunis, brought together more than 200 participants involved in the sending home of money by workers living abroad.
Financial institutions, development agencies, private banks, money transfer companies, telecoms operators, migrant diaspora groups and NGOs gathered in Tunis on 22-23 October.
At the closing session, the Forum participants called for, amongst others, the increased competition in a market dominated by two major money transfer groups, the empowerment of market actors, effective and efficient regulation, the adoption of new technologies and the expansion of access to financial services, especially in rural areas.
The forum also urged that more market actors, especially microfinance institutions, post offices and credit unions, be enabled to act as pay-out locations. This, according to the participants, would not only increase outreach to rural areas where people travel long distances to cash their money but would also make it possible to cross-sell other services and provide financial education.
At the G8 summit in L’Aquila in July, world leaders recognised the importance of remittances for development and pledged to reduce the cost of remittance by 50 percent in the next five years, by promoting a competitive environment and removing barriers. The G8 Working Group on Remittances is meeting in Rome next month.
Some 30 million Africans live abroad and remittance flows to and within the continent approached $40 billion, according to an IFAD report - Sending Money Home to Africa - which was presented at the event.
The report found that in four out of five African countries, governments restrict the type of financial institutions able to offer remittance services.
The number of payout locations across the entire African continent is the same as Mexico, which has only a tenth of Africa’s population, the report found.
The forum also urged that exclusivity agreements that hamper competition be discontinued, that standards and interoperability be encouraged, that remittances should not be subject to taxation and that ways be found to link rural areas in Africa with mobile phone and other non-cash technologies.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.