Migrant returnees turn to mobile money in Sudan
To get around the shortage of cash in Sudan, Africa’s largest mobile operator MTN has partnered with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) – enabling returning migrants to use its mobile money service MoMo to re-establish their livelihoods in the country.
An IOM pilot project will allow up to 2,000 returnees starting small businesses to select their own suppliers paid through MoMo.
“Economic reintegration is one of the key elements to sustainable return, and MoMo is an innovative way of delivering it,” said Andrew Gray, head of migration management and development at IOM Sudan.
Sudan presents a complex and diverse migration profile as a source, transit and destination country at the centre of multiple migration routes and is host to several migrant populations.
With IOM’s support, the country is also facilitating the return and reintegration of its nationals, many of whom were stranded in Libya.
In addition to psycho-social support, qualifying Sudanese migrant returnees are offered economic assistance to acquire vocational skills in preparation for their re-entry into the job market. They may also be offered small grants, paid in kind, to start small businesses.
Among those who have received reintegration support through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative is Mohamed Ahmed who returned to Sudan from Libya in 2018 with the IOM’s assistance.
He was able to open a shop in Omdurman market, Khartoum State, and now has a sustainable income. “Business is going well now, and I also got married and life has been getting better,” he says.
An agreement was reached between MTN, the Secretariat for Sudanese Working Abroad (SSWA) and IOM, through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in the Horn of Africa (the EU-IOM Joint Initiative).
“It is an honour for MTN to be a part of this pilot; it goes further to the core of what we believe, to serve those who are unbanked, marginalized, to drive financial inclusion to those who do not have access to bank accounts and benefits of normal financial activity,” said MTN Sudan CEO Malik Melamu. “We hope that we can expand this partnership, to reach further.”
Amel Ibrahim of the SSWA said, “We are here to help the Sudanese people and this pilot could not be done without the collaboration of everyone. We hope for continued support to successfully reintegrate returning migrants to Sudan.”