African countries have taken the bold step to improve measurement and recording of remittances flow, reduce remittance transfer costs and enable beneficiaries to be included in the financial system.
This follows the signing of Host Country Agreement by Kenya with the African Union Commission (AUC) to host the Africa Institute for Remittance (AIR) here over the weekend.
The signing at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies was presided over by Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Amb. Amina Mohamed, and Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
Speaking during the occasion, which also marks the formal launch of the Institute’s operations, Amina said AIR will harness remittances from Africans in the Diaspora and ensure they are channeled to the productive sectors of the economies of African countries.
“The AIR will assist African countries to develop robust policies to leverage remittances from the vast African Diaspora for the social and economic development of the continent,” said Amina.
She said remittances from the African Diaspora increased by 3.5 per cent in 2013 to reach an estimated US$ 62 billion, sent by the over 30 million African migrants.
“These are substantial resources which can promote development in the continent if appropriately harnessed and channeled to the productive sectors of our economies,” she said.
She said AIR will build the capacity of institutions involved in money transfers as well as provide them with technical assistance and sharing of best practices.
She thanked the African Union for according Kenya the privilege to host the premier Institute and pledged Kenya’s commitment to honour its obligations to AIR as spelt out in the Host Country Agreement and other documents.
On his part, Mr Mwencha said Kenya had managed to win the hosting right because of the good facilities it availed to AIR.
“There were four countries that competed to the wire and Kenya emerged top because of commitment shown by the leadership,” Mwencha said.
He said AIR will develop a policy that will trace where the funds are invested through use of modern technology. He called on African governments to consider having a roaming facility that is cheaper and affordable.
Treasury Principal Secretary kamau Thugge, in his statement, said Kenya offers strong statistical capacity through the Kenya Bureau of Standards and the central Bank of Kenya.
AIR operations begin immediately and recruitment will follow the already laid down procedure of the African Union, Thugge added.