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ImageThe launch of a new database aimed at Ghanaians living in the UK will offer crucial information on money transfer providers.

For Ghanaians living in the Diaspora, sending money back home to family and friends can be both expensive and risky.  An initiative launched by Profile Business Intelligence with the aid of the UK Department for International Development (DFID) aims to provide Ghanaians with information to make informed choices when sending remittances.

Remittances to Ghana

The launch of the Ghana leaflet and website took place in February at the Ghana High Commission in London.  Welcoming the delegation of Ghanaians and other guests to the launch, Mr. Adolphus Arthur, Ghana’s Deputy High Commissioner to the UK, highlighted the importance of remittances from non-resident Ghanaians to those at home.

Image“The ever increasing migration of Africans has its own dividends,” he said.  “Ghana has benefited enormously from her sons and daughters migrating to the UK.”  Pointing out that the number of Ghanaians in the UK has grown from around 10,000 in 1957 to the 2001 official census figure of 150,000, Mr. Arthur added that “the amount of money received in Ghana in remittances is impressive in its sheer scale.”

The benefits of remittances are many, he said.  “Remittances go straight to the grass roots; to pay for school fees, health and to invest in business.  Remittances don’t come with interest, like loans, so they go straight to the beneficiary.”

Global Impact of Remittances

ImageThe issue of remittances to developing economies was given impetus at the 2004 Sea Island G8 Summit when politicians publicly noted the importance of these contributions to countries.  While estimates of remittances vary, formal studies have suggested that approximately US$200 billion was remitted to developing countries in 2006, with estimates of informal flows seen as likely to be double this figure.  For many countries, these sums come second only to foreign direct investment (FDI) and, in some cases, surpass official aid.  They are often a crucial source of income to recipients and critical to their ability to pay for healthcare, education and other costs.

With over 2 million of its citizens overseas in the UK, USA, Africa and, increasingly, in Asia, remittance flows into Ghana are of major significance to the country’s economy.  According to Ghana’s President Kufuor, between 2001 and 2006, approximately US$7-8 billion was remitted into Ghana, while the Bank of Ghana has estimated remittances to be 15% of the country’s GDP.

The scale of these contributions has led to an increased recognition of the importance of Ghana’s Diaspora and has facilitated developments including the introduction of dual citizenship for Ghanaians and the right of non-resident Ghanaians to vote in Ghana’s elections.

Removing Barriers to Remittances

Speaking at the launch, Emmanuel Addy, Director of   Profile Business Intelligence, the company managing the ‘Sending Money Home’ project, stressed the desire of DFID and the Government of Ghana to encourage remittances by reducing the barriers of cost and security. 

“The reason for publishing the leaflets and producing the website is to make information about remittances as accessible and easy to understand as possible for those wishing to send money abroad,” he explained. “The website is aimed at Ghanaians living here in the UK and both the Ghanaian leaflet and the Ghanaian page on the website, contain crucial information on money transfer providers, their fees, speed of transfer, ID requirements and a number of other factors that affect people’s decisions when sending money home.”

The website is designed for consumers and is a practical tool which has already led to a reduction of 12.5% on the cost of sending remittances from the UK for the other countries featured on the website.

“There is always a choice on which service provider to use when sending money home and this information is available to assist those in making their decision,” Addy said.

Sending Money Home

Launched in March 2005, the ‘Sending Money Home’ project has produced and distributed over 600,000 community-specific information leaflets and booklets, many of which have been translated into the relevant languages.

The project provides detailed and comparative information on the range of products available for remitting money worldwide. To date, the company has provided information for various African communities in the UK, including the Kenyan, Nigerian, Rwandan and South African communities in the UK and for non-resident South Africans wishing to send money to Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique and Swaziland. www.sendmoneyhome.org

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