A substantive literature suggests that migration generates benefits for migrants, the host societies, and the countries of origin. The economic benefits for the countries of origin are realized primarily through the receipt of remittances. These large and stable resource flows remained relatively resilient during the global financial crisis compared to steep declines in private capital flows, and they have quickly recovered to the precrisis levels. African countries are estimated to have received $40 billion in officially recorded flows in 2010, but the true size is believed to be far larger. Remittances are associated with reduction in poverty, improved education and health outcomes, and increased availability of funds for small business investments. Remittances represent a positive and relatively noncontroversial outcome of migration. Despite the importance of remittances, the official data on remittance flows to Africa are weak, and remittance markets in Africa remain underdeveloped. Informal remittance channels continue to dominate cross-border and domestic remittance flows in the region. The cost of sending remittances to Africa continues to remain significantly higher than those in more mature migration corridors, such as between Mexico and the United States.
This volume from the World Bank brings together studies of remittance markets in eight Sub-Saharan African countries and two key destinations for African migrants outside the African continent. It provides an overview of the remittance markets, and the policy and institutional environments in both sending and receiving countries. Based on primary surveys of remittance service providers about the types of remittance services, barriers to entry and exit, legal and regulatory environment, remittance costs, and innovative technologies, the chapters of this volume provide a unique window into the functioning of remittance markets in this region.