IOM Study in Ghana Finds Remittances Nearly Doubled Household Incomes in 2016

Migration Research

Ghana - On 6 April 2017, IOM launched two studies on remittances in Ghana – a Baseline Assessment of Household Remittances and an Assessment of Remittance-related Services and Practices of Financial Institutions.

The household survey, conducted in partnership with the Ghana Statistical Services (GSS) in six selected districts of the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo Regions in Ghana, covered 1,200 households, of which 26 per cent had received remittances during the12-month period of the study. The survey found that the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany were among the highest remittance-sending countries to these six districts.

The total amount of cash received in the 12-month period was 1,361,678 Ghanaian Cedi (GHS) (approximately USD 300,000), with each household receiving an average of GHS 4,663 (approximately USD 1,069). The monetary value of goods received during the same period was GHS 1,042,463 (approximately USD 220,000). Furthermore, the survey showed that the primary use of the remittances received was to buy basic necessities, such as food, clothing and household goods, with a lower priority given to investments or savings.

Presenting the findings of the study, Godwin Odei Gyebi, Head of the Data Production Unit of GSS, noted the significance of these findings and the impact of remittances on receiving households, “Considering that the average annual income in Ghana is approximately USD 1,208, this means a lot for households receiving remittances.”

Joseph Teye from the University of Ghana, who led the qualitative study, noted that it was the poor who suffered the brunt of the high tariffs adopted by Money Transfer Operators (MTOs).

“The higher the amount transferred, the lower will be the fee paid by the remitter. What this means for the poorer migrants, who send small amounts of remittances at a time, is that they will be paying a higher proportion of transfer charges,” said Teye.

The research recommends that the Government of Ghana offer remittance senders and receivers viable and affordable options and improve access to financial services. Other recommendations include bank-to-bank partnerships, facilitating the process for opening bank accounts, as well as improving financial education on savings and investment of remittances. The conclusions from these studies will contribute directly to policy and strategies on the promotion of formal remittances and in turn contribute to the development impact of these transfers in the communities of receipt as well as at a national level.

This dissemination meeting also provided a platform for key actors with different perspectives to discuss and share knowledge on the issue of remittances and their impact on Ghana.

“Discussing remittances means mobilizing various government agencies; banking, finance and telecommunication actors; academics; civil society and migrants,” said Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, IOM Ghana Chief of Mission. “These are not actors that are accustomed to working together. Gathering them around the same table is in itself an achievement, finding common grounds for concrete action is the next challenge,” she continued.

It must not be forgotten that remittances are first and foremost voluntary and private transfers and it is the migrant sender and receiver who decide how remittances will be spent.

The launch was attended by representatives from Ghanaian government agencies, several banks and money transfer companies. It is part of the project, Improving Capacities to Leverage Migrant Remittances for Development in Ghana, funded by the IOM Development Fund, which seeks to develop the capacity of IOM member states to manage migration. 

For further information, please contact Eric Akomanyi at IOM Ghana, Tel: +233 302 742 930, Ext. 2405, Email: