758,294 Ugandan emigrants sent home $948 million in remittances in 2012. That’s fast approaching the $1.6 billion Uganda received in development aid in 2011. The really interesting nugget about Ugandan immigrants (at least according to this report), is that 531,218 of them live in Kenya.
If Bank of Uganda’s estimation that 40% of those sending money to Uganda live in Africa is accurate, but only account for 27% of all the remittances sent to Uganda, or roughly $200 million. Then that’s a lot of sugar from our neighbor next door.
Is it me or does this change the landscape on exactly what kind of money is in Africa if we are looking at this kind of financial mobility. Put another way, these numbers challenge the notion that African immigrants have to travel off the continent in order to make any real money.
I’ll wager that as mobile carrier-provided payment services become more interoperable between networks and border-less, we’ll begin to see a lot more money moving across borders. If this can be accomplished within the next 5 years, Africa will finally have solved the question of how to pay for things. Innovations in the financial sector enabling seamless payment services could spring quite a number of consumer-focused startups.
The physical infrastructure needed to move these products to consumers, though, will remain a challenge. The only way we can leap frog that is if someone actually figures out teleportation.