A meeting of African experts opened on 27 March 2014 in Tunis with remittances from African migrants as the topic for discussion. The question was given priority at the pan-African seminar co-organized by the African Development Bank and AFD, the French Development Agency. The event launch was attended by the President of the AfDB, Donald Kaberuka, and the Tunisian Minister of the Economy and Finance, Hakim Ben Hammouda.
In a documentary shown during the meeting, Mr Kaberuka called for "greater transparency" in remittances and asked Africans to be "more competitive". The characteristics of the remittances market appear to differ greatly from one African region to another. Nevertheless, their respective diasporas provide a financial contribution that is seldom negligible.
A point on which experts and stakeholders in the field largely agree is that today the remittances from African migrants are not being used as efficiently as possible, at least from a development perspective in the beneficiary countries. Furthermore, the provision of specific services and products is clearly insufficient to meet the needs of both senders and recipients. Solutions to this problem have been sketched out but remain to be put into action.
Amounts exceed official figures
A film produced by the AfDB on the remittances of African migrants gave an introduction to the experts' presentations and discussions that followed. Without exception, the presentations stressed the significance of the issues involved: amounts sent being notably higher than the official figures; the importance of money transfers in the context of an international crisis and cuts in public development aid; the emergence of African money transfer companies which are challenging the omnipresence of international institutions; the obstacles represented by financial and legal regulations, which are also present in recipient states; and the lack of cooperation between the various parties such as the migrants, money transfer companies, banks, states, regulatory authorities and others. Delegates at the meeting – stakeholders from every field – took part in a discussion entirely free of political rhetoric.
While the issues regarding remittances are considerable, the ambitions are no less impressive. The goals of the meeting were: to identify promising leads on the question; to encourage experience sharing; and to prepare the ground for a movement that will enable Africa to maximize the impact of its migrants' remittances. As a benefit to all Africans, it is another way of saying "inclusive growth".