Benefits, Challenges & Opportunities of Remittances to Africa

In the last decade, many firms have entered Africa due to its resource-rich environment. This has caused economic growth in the continent, having a profound impact on reducing poverty, improving education, skyrocketing healthcare facilities, and spurring entrepreneurial activity.

Another major development has been the increase in inbound remittances to Africa made by the large number of Africans who have migrated out of the continent to settle in richer nations, and now send funds back home. According to the African Development Bank, about 20 million Africans have migrated outside the continent over the past 20 years. More than half of them live in Europe, about a quarter in Asia and about three million in North America. 

Another reason for the growing remittances to Africa is the increase of methods of digital channels to send remittances to the continent.

Nigeria has been the biggest beneficiary of remittances, receiving $19.3 billion in 2022, which sheds light on the significant contribution of the Nigerian diaspora to the country's economy. In the Sub- Saharan region of Africa, remittances grew by 6.1% in 2022 to $53 billion at the present date. The trend was largely driven by strong remittance growth in Ghana (12%), Kenya (8.5%), Tanzania (25%), Rwanda (21%), and Uganda (17%). 

According to the World Bank, remittances have the potential to reduce poverty rates by as much as 20% in some African nations, due to their ability to provide a consistent and reliable source of income for families, especially those in impoverished areas. As a result, many households have seen a colossal improvement in their living conditions as they can afford healthier and better nutrition for their members.

Other than healthcare, education is another key area where remittances have made a considerable impact. Improved financial stability has enabled parents to invest in their children's education and seek better medical care. This has invariably led to enhanced long-term outcomes for the younger generation, fostering a more educated and healthier populace.

Despite the benefits of remittances, there still lay multiple challenges to remittances in Africa. The top 3 Challenges to growing Remittances in Africa are:

  • The average cost of sending remittances to Africa is 7.8%, which is higher than the global average of 7.2%.
  • The most common way to send remittances to Africa is through informal channels, such as money transfers through friends and family, which are often unsecured.
  • Political instability and economic volatility can make it difficult for people to send and receive remittances. This is because they may be afraid that their money will be lost or stolen.

Other than the challenges to growing remittances, there are also numerous other challenges that Africa needs to address. These include:

  • Poverty: Poverty is still a major problem in Africa. About 40% of Africans live below the poverty line.
  • Inequality: Inequality is also a major problem in Africa. The richest 10% of Africans control more than 40% of the wealth.
  • Conflict: There is still a significant amount of conflict in Africa. This is preventing the continent from achieving its full potential.

Despite these challenges, the future of African economies looks bright. Looking to the future, there is a collective push towards better utilization of remittances for Africa’s development. 

With the African Development Bank predicting the continent’s internet economy to reach $180 billion and fintech revenues projected to surpass $30 billion by 2025, digital solutions could revolutionize remittance processes, making them cheaper and more accessible.

However, while the last decade has seen impressive growth and transformation in the remittance landscape in Africa, the journey is far from over. The coming years will require concerted efforts from policymakers, financial institutions, and development partners to further reduce remittance costs, improve financial inclusion, and devise innovative mechanisms to tap into the vast potential of remittances for Africa’s sustainable development.

Raj Hajela
Director & CEO of RemittancesHub

Raj is a serial entrepreneur, with rich experience in starting & managing multiple successful businesses in tech. & payments domain


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