SIM re-registration to benefit remittances – Comms. Min.

From left: Andrew Takyi-Appiah, Managing Director of Zeepay; Magdalene Apenteng, Chief Director at the Ministry of Communications; Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, Western Regional Minister; Paa Kwasi Yankey, Chairman of Zeepay’s Board; and Arianna Gasparri, Financial Inclusion Specialist at the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF)

The impending nationwide re-registration of subscriber identity module (SIM) cards will have a positive bearing on the inflow, distribution and usage of remittances in the country, the Minister of Communication and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu Ekufful, has said.

With the growing trend of using mobile money wallets as the primary channel of remittances, she argued that the exercise will curb instances of fraud while ensuring funds are accessed by the intended recipients; a development she believes will inspire confidence even further and have a ripple-effect on the wider economy.

This was contained in a speech read on her behalf by the Chief Director of the Ministry, Magdalene Apenteng, at the inaugural edition of the ‘disrupt270 conference’ organised by Zeepay to commemorate the International Day of Family Remittances (IDFR).

“The prevalence and accessibility of mobile money services has made them the preferred choice (for remittances) compared to the alternatives. In the past year, even with the pandemic, mobile money-enabled remittances had a healthy growth and remained resilient due to extended reach, enhanced security, convenience and comparatively lower costs.

“Despite these positives,” she said, “one key challenge has been the activities of fraudsters and other criminal elements. The upcoming SIM re-registration exercise will weed-out fraudsters and diminish cybercrimes.”

The minister added that her outfit and relevant stakeholders will ensure that financial inclusion progresses, by riding on suitable financial products as well as connectivity.

Remittances in figures

Remittances continue to be a primary source of private capital flows into the continent, accounting for 51% of such inflows in 2016. Last year, remittances received by Africans totalled US$70billion – confounding analysts who had expected a sharp decline due to projected effects of the pandemic on global economies and migrant workers.

Closer to home, remittances to Ghana grew by 5% to US$3.6billion; thus accounting for some 6% of gross domestic product for 2020, according to the World Bank’s 2021 Migration and Development report.

Off the back of these, and with a projected increase in intra-African migration – particularly spurred on by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Managing Director at Zeepay, Andrew Takyi-Appiah, said the platform seeks to consolidate the gains made by fintechs and remittance facilitation stakeholders.

With intra-African migration inching up from 16 million in 2015 to 19 million in 2019, and Africa having the highest costs for remittances globally, Mr. Takyi-Appiah argued that a lot of possibilities abound to ensure the growing stock of remittances is put to good use.

He stated that while the trend of growth in remittances is expected to continue, it would be counterproductive not to ensure even more efficiency in their sending and receiving, as well as seeking avenues to put these funds to more productive uses.

“We are looking at a situation where young persons, millennials, are looking and seeing invisible borders; people are moving between countries on the continent and taking up positions at all levels. This will see the trend of growth in remittances continue, but we do not want it to be business as usual; we want to drive efficiency in the sending and receiving of these funds as well as help people scale-up the uses of their remittances,” he explained.

The event, which was held under the theme ‘Bridging The Last Frontier: A Case for Digital Remittance Post C-19’, had as its chairman the Western Regional Minister, Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah; as well as representatives from the World Bank, United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and MoneyGram, among others.

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