Remittances play defining role in binding migrants to  families back home  


If you speak to most migrant workers you will hear of the extended financial support they provide to their families back home, as well as the large development projects they are funding. This they achieve by hiving off a portion of their income and sending it to their respective countries using different remittance services.

Currently, about one billion people in the world are involved with remittances either by sending or receiving them – one in nine people are recipients of these flows of money sent by their family members who have migrated for work1.

Indeed, every year, about US$82.7bn in personal remittances are sent to Africa – a figure that is nearly double the continent’s foreign direct investment (FDI) flow of US$46bn2. Personal remittances to almost all African countries are also more than the official development assistance they receive.

It is estimated that three-quarters of remittances are used to cover essential things: putting food on the table and covering medical expenses, school fees or housing expenses, as well as loss of crops or family emergencies3.

This, therefore, makes remittances a real contributor to development – which can be seen at the household level where many families have risen above poverty through monies sent to them by relatives abroad, all the way to the national level.

This has been especially important during the Covid pandemic, when many families have had to rely on their relatives abroad to sustain their upkeep after border closures caused many businesses to collapse – leading to income losses. In the pandemic’s early days, it was not uncommon for migrant workers to spare some of their state-issued relief allocations to support struggling relatives back home… aid that is still ongoing during the recovery period.

“As COVID-19 still devastates families around the world, remittances continue to provide a critical lifeline for the poor and vulnerable,” said Michal Rutkowski, global director of social protection and jobs global practice at the World Bank.

It is this critical role of remittances that WorldRemit is proud to support, by providing a quick and convenient way of transferring money among more than 130 countries and in over 70 currencies.

‘’Migrants don’t send money home only to help address the financial situation of their families, it also helps them maintain long-distance household ties with people back at home,’’ says Imane Charioui, Head of North and Central Africa and Middle East-WorldRemit.

‘’Remittances give senders a sense of belonging and a way of showing solidarity and maintaining identity with the community; the true African spirit,’’ she adds.

WorldRemit continues to integrate its systems with mobile money services to make it easier for recipients to collect their payments and reduce the need for long and expensive commutes to cashing points.

“We know how important it is for workers abroad to send money to their loved ones when they need it most. At WorldRemit, we ensure it’s quick, secure and convenient.”

And as people in the diaspora continue working hard to improve the lives of their families back home, WorldRemit continues to invest in technologies that optimise its service.

“We remain committed to our founding objective, which has always been to improve people’s lives; by giving them an affordable remittance service, we are seeing a transformation in the lives of people who use our service,” Charioui said.

The writer is Head of North and Central Africa-WorldRemit


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