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London – Africans are losing $1.8 billion year due to high fees levied on funds sent from abroad by relatives, Britain’s leading think-tank on development said Wednesday.
The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) found that Africans face some of the highest charges in the world for international transfers although Western Union said the fees were down to a range of local factors.
The report, issued in partnership with the Comic Relief charity, claims that reducing the charges to the world average would generate enough revenue “to put some 14 million children into school, almost half of the out-of-school total in the region, and provide safe water to 21 million people”.
Charges in sub-Saharan Africa average 12 per cent on transfers of $200 almost double the global rate, according to the report. “This remittance super tax is diverting resources that families need to invest in education, health and a better future,” said Kevin Watkins, the report’s co-author and ODI director.
“Africans living abroad make huge sacrifices to support their families, yet face charges which are indefensible in an age of mobile banking and Internet transfers.”
Western Union said it had “delivered much-needed services to individuals looking for fast, convenient and reliable ways to send money to family and friends.”
– Daily Nation