Migration of Africans to other continents has increased substantially in the past few years. According to data obtained in 2017 from the United Nations (UN), 25 million Africans are living outside their home continent.
Remittances on money sent back to Africa is a lifeline for families back home. The funds obtained from family members overseas are used for important functions such as paying tuition fees, rent and food.
Furthermore, these funds are used to develop important industries in the region such as elevating education levels, a booming business in agriculture, health, technology and energy which are the major industries in the African continent.
In 2018, around 40 billion dollars was sent by Africans working and living abroad to Sub-Saharan Africa. Noticeably, the remittances charged on these funds is exorbitant to the fact of stifling the market.
According to the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), Africa loses close to 1.8 billion dollars each year to excessive charges on remittances charged to Africans by other Africans in the diaspora. In comparison to all other regions in the world, sending remittances to Africa is more expensive with a significantly large margin of as high as 20%.
Although the cost of sending remittances to Sub Saharan Africa has about 9.4% in 2016, this signifies little progress. The cost of sending equal amounts of remittances to other continents are 7.6% for East Asia, 7.3% for the Middle East and Northern Africa, 6.7% for Europe and Central Asia, 5.9% for Latin America and the Caribbean and 5.2% for South Asia.
Remittances to Sub Saharan Africa constitute 2.5% of the region’s GDP and reducing the cost of the payments greatly benefit the region’s residents. It will take some work to reduce the cost of remittances to 3% by 2030 as outlined in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Major Remittance Corridors in Sub Saharan Africa
As stated earlier, remittances make up a significant portion of the GDP of most African countries. The best way to understand how significant remittances are a part and parcel of GDP is to view how much remittances contributed to the continent’s GDP.
In 2017, Liberia’s remittances as a share of GDP were 27%, for Comoros was 21%, for the Gambia was 20.8%, for Lesotho was 15.2% and 13.9% for Senegal. The above numbers show you just how important remittances to African countries are to their economies.
22 billion dollars of remittances was the highest it’s ever been in Nigeria despite contributing to only 5.6% to the economy in 2017. In the oil revenues, it was still more than the 20 billion generated in Nigeria in the same year.
In Senegal and Ghana, the highest amount of remittances was at 2.2 billion dollars in 2017. The stated figures are unofficial and are still open to speculation. Moreover, there is a lot of information which is not documented where a lot of remittances often transferred through informal channels cannot be ascertained.
For Zimbabwe, read the extensive guide “How to Send Money to Zimbabwe? Mukuru, Western Union, Moneygram?“.
Major Players in the Remittance Market
Western Union and Money have the lion’s share of the African remittance market. But there are many other international money transfer apps to consider for sending money.
So here are a couple of other upcoming players in the African remittance market which include:
WorldRemit is a payment solution provider with operations in over 110 countries including Africa and the Middle East. It supports a wide myriad of payment solutions, has fast turnaround times and amazingly effective customer support. The above reasons are boosted by competitive rates which makes WorldRemit a great option for sending remittances.
WorldRemit also offers coupons which new immigrants can use to send money back home. Sending money using such a coupon is completely free for the first time with the option of lower fees for future transfers. It is clear to see why WorldRemit has been a large player in the African remittance market for such a long time.
Azimo, a recent player to the African remittance market has enjoyed tremendous growth since its launch in 2012. Though they only have a single office in the UK, their website functions well and can be used on any mobile device.
The service allows for use of up to 198 currencies with a transfer allowance for as low as $1. Since the service is overseen by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority, there’s an assurance that your payment is safe and can be recovered if there are any legal issues.
Azimo offers support to many more African countries with remittance transfer platforms such as Chad, Algeria and Ghana. The list of supported African countries is endless with about 50 on the list.
TransferWise is a transfer platform of tremendous benefit to those receiving remittances in Africa. The app has a wide reach and has offices in countries such as Ireland, Australia and Japan.
TransferWise currently supports 38 currencies including the South African Rand. Not only is TransferWise transparent but it also offers highly competitive rates.
The platform is mostly used in India which has enhanced its level of customer support and level of customer satisfaction. The platform allows for all sorts of the money transfer amount and there are rewards for customer loyalty on the platform.
This money transfer system makes their payouts via SWIFT, the worldwide interbank transfer system which can incur high fees. Also, to make a transfer from South Africa, you have to complete a manual form and upload it to the website.
Payoneer is one of the longest acting online payment platforms on the African continent. Since 2005, the app has offered tremendous benefits and competitive services to its users.
The platform Payoneer supports 150 currencies which include a large sum of African currencies unmatched by any other online payment platform. The service is international and has licenses from a variety of international commissions.
For what’s worth, the Payoneer platform is cheap with only a tiny foreign exchange markup, lenient annual fees and absolutely no markup fees. It is highly beneficial for new immigrants with little to no experience with remittances.
Understanding the African Remittance Market Future Through:
Expensive cash transfers are still the norm in Africa and accounted for 90% of the remittance market in 2017. One advantage which Africa has is in the mobile money infrastructure is that it can capitalize on affordable mobile money to reduce the charges on remittances while also reducing costs.
Luckily, Africa adopted mobile money early and with pioneers in the industry such as Kenya’s M-Pesa, the trend will continue. You can expect more remittances in 2025 to be made through mobile money payments.
By 2025, the UN predicts that over 25% of African remittance transactions will be done online following the reduction of costs brought about by digital currency transfers. It is not surprising that more money will be transferred online than physically.
Payment platforms such as the ones mentioned above will only grow in popularity and new ones will emerge further increasing competition and reducing costs.
One only has to look at the past of digital cash transfers from overseas to ascertain this point.
Cryptocurrencies in the year 2025
As it pertains to digital money transfers, it is expected that more transfers will be made in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin in 2025. Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum have grown much in popularity and have caused a significant impact on the global economy.
Despite intervening government policies which might aim to negate their prevalence and undermine their use, cryptocurrencies have shown resounding resiliency. If the trend continues, they will be present in the future and be adopted more in the African remittance market.
The only factor which may hinder the adoption of cryptocurrencies for money transfers from the diaspora to Africa is the politics around FinTech. With less confusion and more education on digital money transfers, the future remains wide open for cryptocurrency for its safety and efficiency.
As more Africans seek employment and investment opportunities abroad, there’s expected to be regulations and formality and fewer restrictions in the African remittance market by 2025.
With more regulations, there will be an imposition of more stringent security measures which will prevent money laundering and financing of illegal activities which are stifling growth on the continent.
Another advantage is that with more formality, there will be a more accurate collection of data which will lead to even better regulation of the sector.
An intricate balance needs to be struck between the security and smooth transition of payments such that it does not affect the other.
If this is achieved, the African remittance market should experience immense growth by 2025.
Author’s bio: Jens Ischebeck is an African focused website publisher and a Crypto-currency expert. His main sites are apps-for-money-transfer.com and Bitcoin-Guide-Africa.com (which both cover the international money transfer tools for inward and outward remittances) and distance-education-guide-africa.com (a platform for accredited e-learning studies)