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The Transfer of Funds from Migrants - Proposals for Helping the Development of African Countries
France’s minister for cooperation, Henri de Raincourt, its secretary of state for foreign trade, Pierre Lellouche, represented by Delphine d’Amarzit, multilateral affairs and development manager at the general directorate for Treasury, and the vice president for sector operations from the African Development Bank (AfDB), Kamal Elkheshen, met in Paris on 21 February 2012, where more than 200 people gathered for a conference on money transfers to Africa from migrants. One-third of the delegates came from North Africa and the African franc zone. Participants included representatives from ministries, central banks, money transfer companies, microfinance institutions, non-governmental organisations and elected representatives.
The French officials welcomed the progress made by France to ease such transfers and reduce their cost, in line with commitments made at the G20 summit under the French presidency, held in Cannes in November last year.
Together with the AfDB vice president, they noted how this flow of private funds supported economic growth in developing countries, in addition to the boost given by development aid and foreign direct investment. These migrant transfers also support the development of savings and investment facilities in developing countries.
Global remittances were valued at €245 billion in 2010, of which more than €30 billion was sent to Africa, according to a joint study by the AfDB and the World Bank.
Delegates had positive discussions, prompted by concrete proposals contained in a study entitled: “Reducing the costs of migrants’ remittances and optimising their impact on development: Financial products and tools for North Africa and the franc zone”.
The recommendations of the study, carried out by the credit institution Epargne sans Frontières (Savings without Borders) and co-financed by AfDB and the French Development Agency, centred on cutting the cost of migrant money transfers and boosting their effect on the development of African countries.
In particular, it focused on ‘bi-banking’* as part of a coordination process between the banks in both countries. The outcomes could include developing new financial products, the use of new technology for electronic transfer, and the introduction of legal and regulatory frameworks.
France and AfDB affirmed their shared aim to continue on this path. They encouraged the officials and experts at the event to work swiftly to put the study’s recommendations into action.
A number of these recommendations may be discussed at the next meeting of the franc zone finance ministers, which is scheduled for April 2012.
* Banking for migrants both in their country of residence and their country of origin