Extension of international and domestic postal financial services, including remittance-related services, to rural areas of French-speaking countries in Western Africa

Grant recipient: Universal Postal Union (UPU)
Countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal
FFR Amount: EUR 200,000
Cofinancing: EUR 124,000


Project Background and Objectives


People receiving remittances through post offices

The project seeks to increase the number of remittance recipients with access to financial services and promote small and medium sized businesses. The project is focused on the extension of the UPU international electronic remittance service to rural postal offices and on the establishment of a link between remittances and postal account-based services. It also fosters support postal offices to develop partnerships with non-postal financial service providers such as banks and credit unions.

Target group

The target group of the project is represented by migrants and recipients of migrant remittances in rural areas of Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal.

Grant recipient

The grant recipient is the Universal Postal Union, active in postal payment services since 1878 and providing postal services through the world's largest network (over 650,000 postal outlets).

Outputs and outcomes

The project started by recruiting a regional Project manager and conducting market research on each of the participating countries.

Geographic distribution of postal offices and the range of services offered, together with cash flow management and accounting procedures were analysed in each country. As a result, configuration of the national postal payment services network was defined, and each of the 6 countries was able to develop a specific plan of action for the implementation of the project.

The UPU-developed International Financial System application was installed and connected in all of the 6 participating countries. In total, 453 post offices over the 6 countries have been equipped so far to deliver the UPU international electronic remittance service. Out of these, 355 are located in rural areas. Postal processes were organized and implemented in rural post offices of all 6 participating countries, with accounting and cash management procedures implemented.

On parallel, the project developed integrated regional plans for the provision of technical assistance and created secure call centers connected to postal offices. 6 marketing plans for the launch of services were prepared, and 2 regional workshops for launch of the services were held.

In addition, a series of cash to account / account to cash services were designed for the targeted post offices. The first pilot services were launched for the corridors Gabon-Burkina Faso and Gabon-Mauritania. At project completion stage, 16 new cash-to-cash bilateral corridors had been opened.

The project reached completion in September 2010. Implementation of the new system resulted in a drastic reduction in transfer time -from two weeks to a maximum of two days- as well as a reduction in tariffs by 30 to 50% -tariffs are now comprised between 2 and 4%. As a consequence, money orders sent or received in the target areas rose by 104%.

Most importantly,  the project has triggered a chain reaction among incumbent private Money Transfer Operators, pushing them towards an overall decrease in tariffs to stay competitive in the changing market.

By supporting and facilitating the possibility of creating savings accounts in an easier and cheaper way and encouraging remittance recipients to store their money instead of immediately cashing it, the project is also expected to contribute, in time, to the creation of an enabling environment for a more productive use of remittances, e.g. the creation of small enterprises.