ABIDJAN, 15 November 2016 – Post offices in Africa now deliver more money than mail. They are becoming essential to provide poor rural populations with access to affordable financial services, including remittances, which amounted to over US$65 billion in 2015.
This will be the focus of the Second African Conference on Remittances and Postal Networks being held today and tomorrow in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, and hosted by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
"More than 15 per cent of adult Africans use the over 26,000 existing post offices and postal agents to access basic financial services, including picking up remittances. Most of them live in rural communities many miles away from banks,” said Pedro De Vasconcelos, Coordinator of the Financing Facility for Remittances at IFAD. “In Africa, post offices are now considered part of the nation’s social fabric and an immediate access point to financial services.”
While the average cost of sending remittances is 7.6 per cent globally, Sub-Saharan Africa remains the most expensive region in the world in which to send money home, with an average cost of 9.5 per cent in 2016. In an increasing number of African countries, post offices are able to provide a remittance service at an average cost of 5 per cent or less.
A new report exploring remittances and the role of the post office in Africa will be launched at the conference. The IFAD report, Remittances at the post office in Africa: Serving the financial needs of migrants and their families in rural areas, focuses on African National Postal Operators as distribution channels to provide access to remittances and financial services. It examines the role post offices play in Africa’s remittance market and ways to make these existing, publicly-owned assets more competitive and inclusive.
About 120 delegates including national postal operators, postbanks, regulatory authorities, governments, private sector banks, money transfer operators, fintech firms, international organizations, civil society and others involved in the remittances market from across Africa will participate.
>> Download the report | >> Download the video
Event explores public and private parnerships, innovative technologies
The two-day event covers key topics including the legal and institutional environment surrounding post offices and remittances, public and private partnerships, innovative technologies for financial inclusion, market positioning of postal operators and the various experiences on the ground. The conference will highlight pilot projects in Benin, Ghana, Madagascar and Senegal to share best practices and discuss ways to expand these pilots to other countries.
The conference is being organized in the framework of the African Postal Financial Services Initiative, a joint regional programme launched by IFAD’s Financing Facility for Remittances (FFR) in collaboration with the World Bank, the Universal Postal Union (UPU), the World Savings Banks Institute (WSBI) and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), and co-financed by the European Union. This unique partnership aims to enhance competition in the African remittance market by promoting, supporting and enabling post offices in Africa to offer remittance and financial services and to foster dialogue between stakeholders, regulators and policy-makers.
WSBI part of effort, conference
WSBI will lead today a panel session on Postal Public-Private partnerships and present efforts made to improve partnerships between Postal Financial Institutions and Money Transfer Operators.
Beyond the conference, WSBI has taken part in other joint work with IFAD, World Bank, and UNCDF to support Postal Operators in Africa to offer remittances and financial services. Those efforts included issuing a call on International Day of Family Remittances in June for the improvement of partnerships between Post and Money Transfer Operators for better remittance services to rural Africa. Packaged in a brochure format, the call includes proposed ways to improve partnerships between PFIs and MTOs. The two-page "slick" has been presented at meetings being planned with main MTOs, such as Western Union, to promote changes needed towards fairer partnerships. Advocates for fairer contractual terms between postal financial institutions (PFIs) and money transfer operators (MTOs), APFSI members see the work serving the interests of migrants and their families at lower cost, less time and more convenience. It also drives compliance with internationally agreed standards to lower the cost to less than 5 per cent and then 3 pr cent.
>> Watch: video on the African Postal Financial Services Initiative
Notes to editors:
IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, IFAD has provided about US$18 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached some 462 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome – the UN’s food and agriculture hub.