Address by H.E. Prof. Robert DUSSEY, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and Togolese Abroad at the opening of the Business Forum for the reduction of remittance costs from the African Diaspora
Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans Residing Abroad,
Mr. Chairperson of the African Union Commission,
Madam Under-Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), in charge of the Regional Office for Africa,
Ladies and gentlemen ministers and dear colleagues,
Dear AUDA-NEPAD Executive Secretary,
Distinguished Governors of Central Banks of Africa,
Excellency ladies and gentlemen ambassadors, heads of diplomatic and consular missions,
Ladies and gentlemen, representatives of international organizations, distinguished guests, dear participants,
Ladies and gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to express my warmest thanks to my distinguished brother and friend, Mr. Nasser BOURITA, Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans Living Abroad, for all the efforts he has made and the arrangements he has made to ensure the success of this business forum on reducing the cost of remittances from the African Diaspora. I am also grateful to him for the warm welcome extended to me and to the delegation accompanying me.
The holding of this meeting, which takes place in the context of an international situation marked by multiple uncertainties and challenges, constitutes a privileged opportunity for us to strengthen the existing frameworks for dialogue at the continental level with regard to the actions to be taken for the reduction in the cost of remittances from the African diaspora, the objective being to optimize the contribution of the latter to the development of Africa.
The event that brings us together today is one of the priority projects of the action plan for the decade of African roots and the African diaspora. Indeed, I would like to recall that on the proposal of Togo, the 34th conference of Heads of State and Government of the African Union decreed the years 2021-2031 “decade of African roots and diasporas”. This decision, which has the ultimate objective of placing the African diasporas and Afro-descendants back at the heart of the priorities of the bodies of the continental organization and its member states, aims to mobilize and channel the contributions of Africans living abroad. with a view to carrying out the continent’s development programs, of which the 2063 agenda remains the Ariadne’s thread. I would like here to salute the particularly active participation of the Kingdom of Morocco in the activities of the High Committee responsible for the implementation of this decade, which Togo chairs.
Mr. Chairman of the African Commission, Ladies and Gentlemen Ministers,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today, the importance of remittances from the diaspora in the economy of our countries and in the daily life of households is well established because many studies document it quite well. As an indication, these monetary transfers to the continent amounted to 85.9 billion dollars in 2019 and 78.4 billion in 2020 and represent an average contribution of between 7 and 10% of the GDP of our various countries. They represent more than 20% of the GDP of certain countries such as Cape Verde, Gambia and Lesotho. In Togo, financial transfers represent between 8% and 10% of GDP. According to the latest World Bank report, remittances from African migrants to their countries of origin increased by 6.2% in 2021. The main beneficiary African countries are Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Senegal.
Despite the various actions taken and measures taken by the international community on the issue, such as the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which reaffirms, among other things, the importance of migrant remittances and recommends States, through its objective 20, to “make remittances faster, safer and less expensive in order to promote the financial inclusion of migrants”, certain regions of the world, in particular the African continent, are still victims of very high transfer costs compared to the average. These transfers are subject to exorbitant rates and the deductions made by transfer organizations can, according to some studies, reach 15%, thus representing some 1.6 billion euros in lost earnings for the African continent.
This situation is deplorable and goes against the Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union’s Agenda 2063. To remedy this, we believe it is essential to carry out in-depth reflections during this forum to find innovative solution approaches capable of meeting the need to optimize transfers of funds from the diaspora. It goes without saying that it is necessary to put in place adequate infrastructures and strengthen the regulatory frameworks favorable to these actions. We must also act in synergy and draw inspiration from existing good practices in this area on the continent or elsewhere, for greater efficiency.
Togo strongly hopes that our forum will allow African States to agree on a framework and a procedure to very quickly enter into formal negotiations with the main money transfer agencies in order to bring them to reduce the costs of their services.
In addition, the development of innovative technological solutions for remittances would reduce fees, speed up transactions, enhance security and link remittances to a full range of financial services, in order to encourage migrants and their family members to invest in the economies of our countries.
To this end, I appeal for the strengthening of the partnership between African financial institutions, research centers, talent incubators and organizations of African diasporas, in order to explore all the technological, operational and strategic options with a view not not only to reduce the cost of transfers, but also to increase the possibilities for migrants to contribute to the financing of development projects in their countries of origin, in particular by using new instruments to capture investments. This approach must closely associate the African institute for fund transfers and be the subject of a communication plan and call for innovative projects (fintech, insurtech, investech, etc.) within the African diaspora in the framework of the Decade of African Roots and Diasporas.
By substantially reducing transfer costs, significant financial resources could be freed up each year for the benefit of the most vulnerable households and directed towards productive job-creating investments.
Mr. Chairperson of the African Union Commission Ladies and Gentlemen Ministers,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Finally, I would like to encourage all African states to take greater advantage of the investment potential of Africans abroad. This will include, among other things, creating a sufficiently incentive environment for the projects of the African diaspora. However, for our actions to have more impact, we need to make them coherent and synergistic at the level of the continent as a whole. The decade (2021-2031) of African roots and diasporas supported by the Royal of Morocco seems to us to be the most appropriate framework to initiate and jointly carry out innovative projects involving the diaspora and Afro-descendants in the service of Africa’s development.
In this regard, I would like to announce Togo’s initiative to organize the Pan-African Congress in Lomé in 2024, with the theme: “Revival of Pan-Africanism and Africa’s place in global governance: mobilizing resources and reinventing itself to to act “.
Lomé, “Capital of Peace, Mediation, Dialogue, and Tolerance”, will host this 9th Pan-African Congress which will be a privileged opportunity for Africans living on the continent and outside it (the diaspora and Afro-descendants ) to question the question of their human, political, cultural, social and societal future, in an increasingly unstable world, lacking in collective responsibility and concerted governance involving Africa. African countries will have to reflect on how to invent a form of human association, a political organization and new visions in order to define what they want and can for themselves and by themselves (“Africanophonia”), alongside other major players on the international political scene and in the global economy.
On this note of encouragement, call to strengthen intra-African cooperation, and hope, I wish full success to our work.
Thank you for your kind attention!