Remittances to Africa Set to Drop by 5.4 % to $41 Billion — Covid-19 Pandemic and High Sending Costs Blamed

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According to findings from the Continental Migration Report 2021, remittances to African countries are projected to decrease from the $44 billion recorded in 2020 to $41 billion.

The Covid Effect

As expected, the Covid-19 pandemic is identified as one of the main causes of the decline. However, despite this projected 5.4 per cent drop, a report by Africa News explains that remittances are now showing “greater resilience and reliability as a source of capital in Africa than foreign direct investment flows.”

Consequently, the Continental Migration Report 2021, which was produced by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in partnership with the African Union Commission (AUC), “recommends that governments across the world should take effective action to facilitate and boost remittances in view of supporting the fight against COVID-19.”

In addition to the pandemic, remittances to Africa continue to be hampered by high sending costs, the report noted. For instance, when sending $200 to the continent, the sender will incur an average cost that is equivalent to eight percent of the value sent. This average sending cost, according to the report, is over five percentage points higher than the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 10 target of three percent.

Lowering the Cost of Remittances

However, as the report notes, some African countries have taken steps to lower the costs of remittance transfers. Some of the steps taken include “relaxed foreign exchange controls to allow for electronic and mobile money transfers at reduced costs.”

The Continental Migration Report 2021, for its part, recommends that member States support migrants and their families through the adoption of laws and regulations to facilitate the sending and receiving of remittances. This can be done by “fostering competition among banks and other remittance handling agencies with a view to establish low-cost transfer mechanisms.”

As expected, the report praises digital transfer solutions such as Mpesa, the mobile phone-based money transfer service, but makes no mention of crypto-based solutions.

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