President, Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), New Jersey, Dr. Kazeem Bello, says remittances by Nigerians living abroad can be a veritable means to support poverty alleviation in the country.
Dr. Kazeem Bello who cited Bangladesh as one of the countries that have benefited immensely from remittances of its nationals in the Diaspora, noted that the inflow to the country has impacted its economy immensely thereby reducing poverty.
The NIDO president who was speaking at the Ecobank Digital Series on “Financial Services & Remittance Solutions for Nigerians in Diaspora: Leveraging Ecobank’s Pan-African offering as the Nation Celebrates 60”, noted that measures should be put in place by the Nigerian government and private sector to attract youths and retirees in the Diaspora to come home and invest.
In her contribution, Chairman/Chief Executive, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said Nigerians in the Diaspora would play a critical role in nation building by increasing their remittances home despite the impact of COVID-19.
Dabiri-Erewa noted that “we can only achieve the Nigeria of our dreams with the support of those in the Diaspora. She charged them to take advantage of Ecobank’s robust digital offerings to achieve their goals of sending money home to take care of their families’ education, health and other needs.
Dabiri-Erewa who commended Ecobank for organising the webinar, said the event was timely and appropriate, acknowledging that COVID-19 has affected remittances, but a lot could still be done to encourage more inflow, in spite of the pandemic.
She challenged Ecobank to lead other Nigerian banks to provide products and services that would encourage Nigerians in the Diaspora to increase their remittances home. The bank, she said should blaze the trail in engaging with Nigerians in the Diaspora, ensuring proper documentation of remittances, as well as providing easier and more affordable cost of remitting money to Nigeria.
She regretted that there was currently no proper documentation of remittances inflow into Nigeria from the officially estimated 17 million Nigerians in the Diaspora. She disclosed that the country’s Diaspora Policy was being put together as well as a Diaspora Trust Fund, adding that plans have been concluded to organise a Diaspora Investment Summit soon.
According to her, the Commission is also currently working with the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria to set up Diaspora Mortgages for interested Nigerians.
Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan in his opening speech noted that there was growing evidence that Diaspora remittances was impacting positively on the economies of various countries of the world. He put the total annual remittances to Nigeria at about $20 billion which he said, contributes hugely to the country’s foreign exchange earnings.
According to him, apart from constant engagement with Nigerians in the Diaspora, the bank is leveraging its digital technology through its Rapidtransfer App and Ecobank mobile App to make it easy and affordable for Nigerians abroad to remit money to their home country.
”Our dedicated Rapidtransfer, mobile remittance app is a game changer for the market. It enables Africans and indeed Nigerians wherever they are to easily and instantly send money to bank accounts, mobile wallets and cash collection in – and across – 33 African countries,” “Historically, the cost of sending cross-border remittances to Africa has been far too high at about 6%-7%.”
Similarly, the process to send funds has long been inefficient and burdensome, with customers typically needing to go physically to an agent sometimes late in the night or in poor weather with attendant discomfort and risks.
“The Rapidtransfer app remittance solution is a quick, easy and reliable digital solution that removes all of these issues. It is indeed a game-changer for Nigerians and all Africans with its sustainable and standout affordability.”
Ecobank Managing Director further explained that the transaction cost is affordable with the charge from zero to about 3% as compared to 6 – 7% elsewhere, and with instant transfer speed, adding that exchange rate is transparent and compares favourably with others. He added that Ecobank also offers Mortgages, Treasury Bills, Capital market instruments and others.
He submitted that Ecobank was privileged to work closely with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, (NIDCOM) and will continue to pursue its mandate of helping to enhance the economic development and integration of Africa, through the 33 countries and two affiliates where the bank operates on the continent.