Observance event

11 June 2024, Banjul, The Gambia

This year’s IDFR observance in Banjul on 11 June acknowledged the contribution of remittances to the millions of family members, rural communities and the country. The event highlighted the importance of digitalizing remittances towards financial inclusion and cost reduction, and to leave no one behind.

Attended by close to 50 stakeholders across the industry, the main takeaways were:

1.     Collective efforts are required to reach 70% of the population who still lack access to financial services

2.     Internet connectivity remains a barrier in digitalising remittances in rural areas

3.     Cash incentives are key in accelerating uptake of digital remittance products; however, the ecosystem needs to expand service offerings to ensure that money in digital accounts is not cashed out.

4.     Managing agent liquidity is central in ensuring that remittances are accessible to customers at any given time.

5.     Partnerships are key building a viable ecosystem for all operators. In this regard, competition should be on products and value as opposed to pricing.

 

The International Day of Family Remittances (IDFR) is a universally-recognized observance adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (Resolution A/RES/72/281) and marked every year on 16 June.

Every year, the IDFR highlights the significant contribution of over 200 million migrants, through the remittances they send home, to improve the lives of over 800 million family members. This Day draws our attention to the economic impact of these money flows nations, and recognises the sacrifice, separation and generosity of migrants.

By 2030, it is projected that globally US$5 trillion will have been sent home by migrants to lower- and middle- income countries. Much of this money goes directly to rural areas where 80 per cent of the world’s poor live, face food shortages, and the impacts of climate change are the most pronounced.

Remittances, sent by migrants and diaspora communities, directly support millions of families to achieve their own Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They contribute directly to poverty alleviation, education, healthcare, small business development, gender equality, and rural economic growth.

 

IDFR 2024 The Gambia

In The Gambia, according to the World Bank, remittances flows were estimated at US$627.5 Million in 2023, accounting for 26.3 per cent of the country’s GDP. To put into context, this is more than the combined inflow of Official Development Assistance (ODA) and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to The Gambia. Moreover, these flows have shown resilience through times of crisis, more recently the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Celebrating Successes

Gambians have much to cherish and learn from in terms of cost reduction. Remittance costs to The Gambia have been decreasing and continue on that tendency. The cost of sending US$200 as a remittance to The Gambia now averages 6.9 per cent (2023 Q3), advancing on the SDG 10.c for remittance costs to average 3 per cent. This is great progress when compared to the cost of 16.1 per cent (2023 Q1) (RemitScope, 2024).

The Gambia have made significant advancements in financial inclusion and in offering formal channels for remittance transfers.  However, a lot more is required to reach close to 70 per cent of the population who still lack access to formal financial products.

More recently, Gambia’s FinTech sector has been innovating around the use of digital wallets which are now available across the market. Notable progress has been realised with close top 200 00 digital being linked to international remittances under the PRIME Africa Programme.

 

Leave No One Behind

However, there is still more to do.

  • Financial in the Gambia is improving but a majority of Gambians do not have access to formal financial services. Findex 2021 reports that only 31 per cent of Gambian adults have an account with a formal financial institution.
  • A significant gender gap persists, only 28 per cent of women have access to financial services. About 37 per cent of Gambian men have access to formal financial services.
  • Lack of necessary documents is still a barrier to accessing formal financial services.
  • Cost and limited access points remain barriers to usage and uptake in mobile money services.
  • About 70 per cent of adults still rely on informal channels to receive remittances.
  • The retention of remittances received in bank accounts is still very low, as cash withdrawals are common. The merchant ecosystem is still developing limiting the use cases of digital stores of value.

 

Agenda

9:45 Welcome coffee
10:00 Welcome – campaign 2023-2024 + IDFR video 
  • IFAD
10:15 Keynote Address

Lamin Camara, Permanent Secretary- Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy

10:30 Address by the EU Delegation in The Gambia

Enrica Pellacani, Head of Cooperation- EU Delegation to The Gambia

11:00 Address by the Central Bank of The Gambia

Abodou Ceesay Director Fintech and Forex Bureau Supervision

11:30 Address by the Financial Intelligence Unit

IDRF 2024 Campaign Video

11:45 Address by private sector CEOs
  • Mr Muhammed Jah, Chairman ,QGroup
  • Mr Marwan Khoury, Managing Director, Comium

“Cost Reduction, Digitalization & Financial Inclusion”

12:00 Panel discussion
  • Hussein Kammouny, Comium
  • Kate Roze, Africell
  • Alieu Njie, Qcell
  • Sait Ceesay, APS
12:45 Q&A
13:15 Closing Remarks: IFAD
13:30 Lunch