Money sent back to Cameroon by its citizens living abroad peaked at USD 1.2 billion in 2015, approximately FCfa 585 billion, the British company WorldRemit announced. The world leader in digital money transfer specified in its communiqué that it obtained this statistics from the World Bank.
Quick calculation, this figure represents roughly 33% of the public investment budget (PIB) of the country for 2016 (FCfa 1,500 billion), over 60% of the funding necessary to implement the three-year emergency programme of the Cameroonian government (FCfa 900 billion), as well as close to 120% of the funds sought for the construction of the Natchigal dam (FCfa 400 billion), with a capacity of 400 MW, under development in Cameroon.
Over a 2-year period, these transfers from the Cameroonian diaspora more than doubled, as they were only of FCfa 218.7 billion in 2013, against FCfa 181 billion in 2009, according to statistics from the balance of payments department of the Ministry of Finance.
According to the latter source, until 2013, the CEMAC was the main point of origin for these transfers from the Cameroonian diaspora, with 38% of transfers registered that year, against 27% from France, 15% from the USA and 20% for the rest of the world. These funds, we learned, are for the most used to meet the basic needs of the families who remain in Cameroon.
“These money transfers from abroad play a major role in the economy of Cameroon”, highlighted WorldRemit, who has just launched its digital money transfer service in the country, through a partnership with the Cameroonian subsidiary of the Ivorian banking group Banque Atlantique.
The dynamism observed on the money transfer segment from the Cameroonian diaspora, which gathers 40% of the highly skilled workforce of the country, according to authorised sources; justifies the increasing interest from money transfers operators for Cameroon.
Indeed, alongside new entrants on this market such as WorldRemit and Afrimarket (cash to goods transfers), there has been stiff competition between heavyweights like MoneyGram and Western Union for some years now.
But aside from them, there is also the local operator Express Union, leader in the domestic transfer market, who extended its network to Western Africa and the CEMAC area, the community from which originates 38% of the money transfers made by the Cameroonian diaspora.
According to the international NGO PlaNet Finance, the volumes of money transfers made by the African diaspora as a whole could be higher than their current level, provided that the cost of the transactions were lowered.
Therefore, this NGO launched, in October 2013, the Initiative for the improvement of the money transfers by migrants to Africa, with the support of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), with financing from the European Union.
This 36-month initiative, we learned, is meant to lower the cost of money transfers for the African diaspora, when they are made via the public post offices network. The ambition, at the end of the project, we learned, is to cuts these costs by 30%, and consequently, multiply by 10 the volumes of these transfers.