Understanding money transfers to ECOWAS

Money By Roshnara Corby March 13, 2020

It was recently estimated that there are 619,000 nationals from African states residing in France, while the number of French citizens of sub-Saharan African origin is thought to be close to 3 million. A high proportion are from Mali and Senegal, two members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Many French nationals from this economic community maintain close ties with their country of origin and contribute financially to local development. As such, sending funds from France to West Africa is a common endeavor, but it can also be a challenging one. The transition to a common currency promises to simplify money transfers to the region in the future, but in the meantime, there are solutions available that can streamline the process.

ECOWAS at a glance

Founded in 1975, ECOWAS comprises 15 member states: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo, with Guinea, Niger and the Ivory Coast currently suspended following unrest.

The aim of the community is to create a single large trade bloc that can achieve “collective self-sufficiency” for its members, promoting economic growth and development while serving as a peacekeeping force in the region. The West African Economic and Monetary Union, a sub-regional bloc of the community, comprises eight mainly French-speaking states and was founded with the aim of fostering economic integration between nations. The launch of the Eco, a common currency to be merged with the CFA franc, has been postponed several times over the years but is currently scheduled for sometime in 2020, according to the BBC.

Role of nationals living abroad

The African Union defines the African diaspora as “peoples of African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union.” Research on migration in France has shown that many people of African descent who were born or are residents in France tend to keep a strong connection with their country of origin, regularly send money to family and friends, and frequently invest in property or business initiatives both in France and back home. France has a number of initiatives in place aimed at supporting business creation, notably via the Mobilisation Européenne pour l’Entreprenariat en Afrique.

Studies show that ECOWAS nationals in France play a significant role in growth in their countries of origin as well as in poverty reduction. Money transfers from members of the diaspora were estimated at $429 billion in 2016, three times the amount of global official development assistance, according to France Diplomatie. At the same time, the Banque de France has found that money transfers from migrant workers in France increased by nearly 19% over five years.

Sending money securely from France

As an ECOWAS national dedicated to having a positive impact on communities back home, you are likely in search of hassle-free and reliable money transfer solutions. A direct bank transfer may seem like a simple way to send money from France to West Africa, but it can also be one of the more costly options. Bank transfers incur various fees, such as currency exchange and percentage fees, which can make it difficult to estimate the total cost of your transfer.

The ideal money-sending solution needs to be reliable and flexible as well as cost-effective, enabling you to transfer funds on a regular basis or to help a loved one in the case of an emergency. As one of the world’s longest-running and most well-recognised money transfer solutions, the Western Union® app enables you to send up to €50,000 (estimated equivalent to US$55,760) at a time to more than 200 countries, including all 15 states. What’s more, the app enables you to monitor your transfers, set up regular payments and even start a payment online before completing it via a local agency.

A convenient money-sending solution will enable you to focus on making a difference both back home and in your country of residence.