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How Remittances Will Inspire Positive Change Back Across Africa this Holiday Season

WorldRemit breaks down how this common practice of giving contributes to the wellbeing of our communities back home.

Sponsored content from WorldRemit

Sending remittances back home this holiday season is important to many immigrants in the US and around the world. In some cultures; people are taught that when you 'succeed', it's important to give back to the people and community that helped you. Sending back money is often perceived as an investment of a special kind — one that not only handles basic family needs but, positively contributes to the social and economic wellbeing of the receiving community. This practice of giving is reflected in the cultural expectations and practice of sending remittances to family and friends across Africa, especially during the holidays.

Money that is sent back home is used for everyday necessities such as food, clothing, housing, education and to fund festive occasions such as Christmas and New Year's celebrations.


Establishing Financial Inclusion and Improving Standard of Living

Financial inclusion is important for sustaining the livelihoods of people back home however this requires access to basic financial services that are affordable and convenient. Remittances lift millions of people and households out of poverty by improving living standards, as well as decreasing the demand for government services. This can help families and individuals on the road to financial independence, savings and investment.

Inclusive finance provides a secure place to keep money, accumulate assets and promotes a sense of dignity regardless of social standing or economic status. All of this can be made possible through the remittances sent by Africans in the diaspora. Credit constraints of unbanked households in poor rural areas can be eased by remittances as it can also facilitate asset accumulation, promote financial literacy and reduce poverty.

Through the WorldRemit platform, senders of remittances can do so digitally (cashless). It's as easy as sending a text message, making the process convenient and affordable to both the sender and the receiver.

Improve Education

There is a connection between remittances and investment in education. Remittance flows have a positive impact on the level of educational investment in children leading to more educated and therefore more stable and empowered families and communities. With the remittances sent back home, the number of children being enrolled in schools increases and the children being forced to stop going to school due to lack of funds or forced into menial labour decreases.

In addition, remittances can help children stay in school even if the funds are not being used specifically for educational investment. When families don't have to worry about making ends meet, children are more likely to finish their education.

Contribution to Employment and Entrepreneurship

One of the major characteristics of developing countries is the high unemployment rates amongst its population. Remittances provide capital to small entrepreneurs and therefore increases entrepreneurship. This is essential because countries that receive a large amount of remittances often have inadequate access to credit for vast portions of the population. While most remittances are used to pay for family consumption, many Africans in the diaspora use part of their earnings to set up businesses in their home country, which in turn provides jobs and employment opportunities.

By providing a solution that would make it easy to send money digitally (cashless), saving time and money in the process, remittances can be sent more conveniently and in larger amounts contributing to reducing unemployment challenges by creating more business and job opportunities.

An Effective Way to Send Money

To positively contribute back home, Africans in the diaspora need to be able to send money conveniently, securely and in the most cost effective way. The answer is to send digitally via the web or an app from their phones-, this not only saves time and money but results in reduced transaction fees. With the cost of remittance transfers drastically reduced by companies like WorldRemit, more money can be sent to improve the lives and livelihood of people back home.

To completely remove any barrier from sending this Christmas, WorldRemit is currently offering new customers zero fees on their first three transfers when they send money with us. All you need to do is use the code: "3FREE" when making payment. It's super simple to sign up and you can start sending money in minutes. See www.worldremit.com/3FREE for more details (T&Cs apply).







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The Five Must-Have Apps for Diaspora Africans in 2020

These mobile apps and digital platforms are making it easier for Africans across the world to find jobs and scholarships, get new citizenship and send money overseas.

Sponsored content from WorldRemit

Mobile apps and digital platforms have fundamentally transformed nearly every aspect of our lives. Whether it's ordering food, keeping track of our work or life goals to sending money to our loved ones, these apps and digital platforms have made lives easier, efficient and more productive.

As the brand new year begins, we have compiled a list of five must-have apps and digital platforms that we believe will help Africans in the diaspora, especially in the U.S. make the most of the year.

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8 Tips on How to Save Money When Sending Money to Africa in 2020

WorldRemit shares some tips to help you save money when transferring money from the USA to Africa.

Sponsored content from WorldRemit.

Sending money abroad has never been easier. When planning to send money, most people do not realize that they can also save money while sending money back home to friends and family. Here are some tips to help you save money.

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The 12 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Sarkodie, Cassper Nyovest, Elaine, Darkovibes, Stogie T, Phyno, C Natty, and more.

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Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

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Politics
Photo courtesy of CNOA

These Colombian Civil Rights Activists Are Fighting to Make Sure Afro-Colombians are Counted in the Census

When 30 percent of Colombia's Black citizens disappeared from the data overnight, a group of Afro-Colombian activists demanded an explanation.

It was the end of 2019 when various Black organizations protested in front of the census bureau—The National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (DANE)—in Bogotá, Colombia to show their dissatisfaction about what they called a "statistical genocide" of the black population. The census data, published that year, showed 2.9 million people, only 6 percent of the total population of the country, was counted as "Afro-Colombian," "Raizal," and "Palenquero"—the various terms identifying black Colombians.

For many years, Afro-Colombians have been considered the second largest ethno-racial group in the country. Regionally, Colombia has long been considered the country with the second highest number of Afro-descendants after Brazil, according to a civil society report.

Why did the population of Afro-Colombians drop so drastically?

Afro-Colombian, Black, Raizal, and Palenquero civil-rights activists protesting erasure of Afro-descendants in front of the census bureau.

Last year, a crowd of activists gathered in Bogota to protest what they saw as erasure of Black communities in the Colombian census.

Photo courtesy of CNOA

In the latest national census report from 2018/2019, there appeared to be a 30.8 percent reduction of the overall group of people that identified as Black, Afro-Colombian, Raizal, and Palenquero, as compared to the 2005. After this controversial report, an Afro-Colombian civil rights organization known as the National Conference of Afro Colombian Organizations (CNOA), officially urged DANE to explain the big undercounting of the black population.

This wasn't a small fight. Representatives who hold the special seats of Afro-Colombians in Colombia's congress asked the census bureau to attend a political control debate at the House of Representatives in November 2019 to deliver an accountability report. "The main goal of doing a political debate was to demand DANE to give us a strong reason about the mistaken data in the last census in regard to the Afro population," said Ariel Palacios, an activist and a member of CNOA.

At the debate, the state released an updated census data report saying that, almost 10 percent of the Colombian population—4.6 million people out of 50.3 million—considers themselves Afro-Colombians or other ethnicities (like Raizal, and Palenquero). But despite DANE trying to confirm the accuracy and reliability on the latest census report it was clear that, for a variety of reasons, Black people were missed by the census. The state argued that their main obstacles with data collection were related to the difficulties of the self-recognition question, as well as security reasons that didn't allow them to access certain regions. They also admitted to a lack of training, logistics and an overall lack of success in the way the data collectors conducted the census.

How could they have counted Black populations better?

Afro-Colombian, Black, Raizal, and Palenquero civil-rights activists playing drums in front of the census bureau.

Drummers performing during a protest against the Colombian census bureau's erasure of Afro-Colombians from the 2018 census.

Photo courtesy of CNOA

These arguments were not reasonable for the civil rights activists, partially because the state failed to properly partner with Afro-organizations like CNOA to conduct or facilitate extensive informational campaigns about the self-identification questions.

"CNOA has worked on self-recognition and visibility campaigns among the Afro community and this census ignored our work," says priest Emigdio Cuesta-Pino, the executive secretary of CNOA. Palacios also thinks that the majority of Afro-Colombians are aware of their identity "we self-identify because we know there is a public political debate and we know that there is a lack of investment on public policies."

That's why it is not enough to leave the statistical data to the official census bureau to ensure that Afro-Colombian communities are fully counted in the country. And the civil rights activists knows that. They made a big splash in the national media and achieved visibility in the international community.

Thanks to The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a human rights organization, Palacios traveled to D.C to meet with Race and Equality institution and a Democratic Congressman. "We called for a meeting with representative Hank Johnson to talk about the implementation of Colombia's peace accords from an Afro-Colombian perspective but also to address the gross undercounts of its black population," says Palacios.

For the activists at CNOA, the statistical visibility of the Black population is one of their battles. They have fought for Afro population recognition for almost two decades. "Since the very beginning CNOA has worked on the census issue as one of our main commitments within the statistical visibility of the Afro-Colombian people," says priest Cuesta-Pina. Behind this civil organization are 270 local associations, who work for their rights and collective interests.

The activists want to raise awareness on identity. Because according to Palacios, "In Colombia, there is missing an identity debate—we don't know what we are. They [the census bureau] ask if we are black, or if we are Afro-Colombians. But what are the others being asked? If they are white, mestizo or indigenous?" Palacios believes that for "CNOA this debate is pending, and also it is relevant to know which is the character of this nation."

Afro-Colombian Populations and the Coronavirus

Afro-Colombian, Black, Raizal, and Palenquero civil-rights activists use mock coffins and statistics to protest erasure of Afro-descendants

Colombian civil-rights activist insist that undercounting Afro-descendants can have a real impact on the health of Afro-Colombian communities, especially during the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.

Photo courtesy of CNOA

Even though the state recently "agreed with to give us a detailed census report" and make a different projection with the micro data, says Palacios, now with the Covid-19 emergency, CNOA and the government has suspended all meetings with them, including cancelling a second congressional debate and the expert round table meeting to analyze the data.

Unfortunately, it is exactly in situations like the Covid-19 emergency where data analysis and an accurate census report would have been useful. According to the professor and PhD in Sociology Edgar Benítez from Center for Afro Diasporic Studies—CEAF, "Now it is required to provide a reliable and timely information on how the contagion pattern will spread in those predominantly Afro regions in the country and what is the institutional capacity in those places to face it," says Benítez.

He adds that this information is "critical at the moment because the institutional capacity is not up to provide it at the current situation". That's why the Center for Afro Diasporic Studies plans to work with DANE information from the last census. According to Benítez, "We are thinking of making comparisons at the municipal level with the information reported in the 2018 Quality of Life Survey, in order to have a robust and extensive database as possible on the demographic, economic and social conditions of the black, afro, Raizal and Palenquera population in Colombia."









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