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Analysis | International | National

Ghana’s inward remittances: What’s the true value?

Inward remittances, a crucial source of foreign exchange, but when regulations are lax, they might end up in the wrong hands, fueling a black market that dictates exchange rates, particularly for major trading currencies like the US dollar.

In the 2022 fiscal year, aside from gold ($6.6 billion) and oil ($5.4 billion), remittances ($4.7 billion) became Ghana's third-largest source of forex inflows, surpassing cocoa exports ($2.3 billion) by more than twice the amount.

World Bank data positioned Ghana as the second-highest recipient of remittances in Sub-Saharan Africa after Nigeria. However, a significant discrepancy emerged as the Bank of Ghana recorded over $2 billion less than the World Bank’s reported $4.7 billion, resulting in a significant unaccounted difference of over $2 billion.

This substantial sum often falls into the hands of unauthorized money transfer institutions and payment platforms that neglect to report these inflows to the central bank or the 23 authorized dealer banks responsible for handling forex on behalf of the state. A portion of this unreported $2 billion is also retained by citizens who prefer to hold their forex.

The depreciation of the Ghanaian cedi by over 50% against the US dollar in 2022 was largely influenced by the activities of speculative mechanisms and the black market, where all undocumented forex inflows converge.

Examining the variance between World Bank and Bank of Ghana records reveals a widening gap. Strikingly, as regulations governing forex inflows expand, the unrecorded amount in the central bank's books seems to widen.

The introduction of regulatory measures like the Payment Systems and Services Act (2019) and the National Payment Systems Strategic Plan (2019-2024) by the Bank of Ghana aimed to foster an environment conducive to financial innovations but inadvertently led to the proliferation of unregulated forex transactions.

Money Transfer Companies (MTCs), private entities specializing in international money wiring, play a crucial role in remittance transfers due to their reliability, speed, and convenience.

In Ghana, MTCs like Vigo, Small World, Ria, Western Union, MoneyGram, Cigue, Unity Link, and Express Money Transfer have extensive networks for easy fund accessibility. Additionally, telecommunication companies (e.g., Tigo, Airtel, MTN, Vodafone) have increasingly contributed to money transfers within the country, with Mobile Money services enabling direct transfers to wallets in Ghana.

The emergence of Dedicated Electronic Money Issuers (DEMIs) like Zeepay, licensed under Ghana's Payment Systems and Services Act of 2019, signals a shift toward Fintech-driven electronic money services, with only a handful of companies currently licensed in Ghana.

The increasing diversion of forex inflows away from the Bank of Ghana's oversight poses significant challenges to Ghana's economy, notably impacting exchange rate and inflation policies. The compilation of remittance data by the Bank of Ghana remains intricate, lacking a comprehensive framework to capture these transactions, and this could jeopardize the gains made through Ghana's IMF program aimed at stabilizing the local currency, curbing inflation, and reducing debt to sustainable levels. Addressing these discrepancies promptly is crucial to mitigate potential economic instability in the West African state.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.



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