Rwanda’s private inflows from abroad have increased by 24 percent in the first half of 2009, so far defeating earlier forecasts that remittances will drop by 15 percent at the end of the year.
Viviane Mwitirehe, Director of Statistics in the National Bank of Rwanda told Business Times yesterday that in the first six months of this year statistics indicate that $85.69 million (Rwf48.39 billion) was remitted into the economy compared to $69.13 million (Rwf38.9 billion) in the same period last year.
A recent World Bank report said remittance inflows to developing countries could fall by something between one percent and six percent this year from last year, resulting from recession-hit economies.
“It’s not a surprise but we did not expect the remittance flows to be at this rate in the middle of the financial crisis,” Mwitirehe said.
She said that though the figures are just estimates, most remittances occurred through informal channels.
“We cannot get accurate figures on remittances occurred in informal channels but the good portion of the transfers were made on an informal basis,” Mwitirihe added.
Central Bank says that Western Union, which is the major avenue through which Rwandans in Diaspora remit the money into the economy, transferred around $20.59 million (Rwf11.6 billion) compared to $19.43 million (Rwf10.9 billion) last year.
Transfers through commercial banks reduced to $18.56 million from $19.43 million last year as the informal channels transfers increased $44,66m compared to $3114m last year.
The remittances into Rwanda from abroad have been increasing over years, becoming a major foreign exchange revenue source.
According to the World Bank, Rwandans in the Diaspora remitted over $60 million in 2006 while in 2007 remittances almost doubled to over $110 million.