AIR capacity building workshop on the customized remittances data compilation guides for African Union member states: improving collection and estimation methods

November 15, 2017 @ 7:32 am – November 17, 2017 @ 8:32 am

Remittances from the diaspora is an important source of income for the poor in developing countries. Africa. However, the total amount of remittance to Africa is not fully captured given that not all the remittances are sent through the formal channels. To this end, AIR organized a workshop to discuss remittance data compilation. The overall objective of the workshop was to develop capacities of remittance data compilers in estimating remittance flows mainly through the informal channels as well as the formal channels that are not covered within the existing remittances statistics. The Institute presented the outcome of its intervention in the Technical Assistance (TA) countries as well as the draft “Simplified Remittances Data Compilation Guide”.

Specific objectives of the workshop:

I. Provide a forum for exchanging ideas and sharing experiences on the measurement, compilation and reporting of remittances data ;
II. Discuss and validate the draft ‘Simplified Remittances Data Compilation Guide’;
III. Initiate discussions on methods and frameworks for measuring , collecting and reporting remittance flows through informal channels
IV. Improve collaboration and networking amongst African Central Banks and Statistics Agencies; and
V. Identify other opportunities and constraints within the remittances market in Africa. III.

Expected Results:
I. The draft ‘Customized Remittances Data Compilation Guide’ validated;
II. Improved collaboration and networking amongst African Central Banks and selected Statistics Agencies in Africa
III. Enhanced capacity of Central Banks in measuring, collecting and reporting on remittance flows through informal channels

In total, 67 participants attended the meeting. Attendees were representatives from 27 AU Member States, including representative of WAEMU countries (Benin, Burkina, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo), Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Republic of Congo, Djibouti; Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea; Ethiopia; Gabon; Ghana; Guinea; Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe; funding partners: the European Union Delegation to the African Union and the International Center for Migration and Policy Development (ICMPD); collaborating partners: Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS); private sector: GSMA (Association of Mobile Operators), MFS-Africa, Zeepay, and Developing Markets Associates-DMA. Participants were mostly from Statistics, specifically balance of payment, payment systems and regulatory units of Central Banks.

Topics covered
The workshop had a total of nine main sessions, namely Session 1: General view on the remittances data compilation systems in the TA countries; Session 2: Unpacking the concept of remittance transfers; Session 3: Type of remittances and transfer methods; Session 4: Remittances data sources and collection methods; Session 5: Leveraging on technology to improve remittance data accuracy; Session 6: Group discussion on three thematic areas; (a) Revisiting the definitions and concepts Session (b) Unpacking the formal remittance channels (c) Unpacking the informal remittance channels 7: Remittance household and enterprise surveys; Session 8: Estimation methods from household surveys to remittance statistics; and Session 9: Way Forward and adoption of the report

1. AIR to design a standardized approach for collecting remittance data through informal channels applicable across the African Union Member States for comparability purposes.

2. AIR to help establish Africa remittance data requirements from all remittance service providers and then agree/enforce them with the service providers.

3. AIR to work in collaboration with relevant regulators and advocate for making the established data requirements for remittances service providers part of licensing rules.

4. AU MS encouraged to use household surveys method of remittance data collection rather than econometric methods.

5. Home based household surveys where recipients are targeted is preferable to host based surveys targeting remittance senders. Home based surveys are less costly compared to host surveys and they facilitate mapping of migrants.

6. It was proposed that there was need for AU MS to accelerate their transition from BPM5 to BPM6 to enhance the quality of remittances statistics.

7. The AU MS should incorporate data/information from the Customs Union as part of remittances data validation processes.

8. Intensified administration of sensitization programs on remittance stakeholders, higher uptake of technology and government initiatives such as the zero fee regime in Egypt and the fee ceilings in Ethiopia constitute some of the measures required to transform informal remittance transactions into formal transactions.