Strengthen internal controls to avert mobile money fraud…

Mobile money transactions have come in as a handy means of deepening financial inclusion in our economy, as the Payment Systems Oversight report by the Bank of Ghana shows.

Mobile money transactions as at December 2016, reached GH¢78.5billion, which represents a 121percentage increase in growth compared to the GH¢35.4billion recorded over the same period in 2015.

Additionally, the number of active money customers increased by 70.75 percent – from 4,868,569 in 2015 to 8,313,283 in 2016. This undoubtedly underscores the importance of mobile money in facilitating progress toward a cash-lite economy.

However, mobile money transactions have been bedevilled with recent reports of fraud…with some attributing the prevalence of instances of fraud to staff at the various telcos, who are believed to be perpetuating the crime.

Naturally, the telcos have come out to deny any such complicity in any form, but there are indications that the database of mobile money merchants are accessed and changes effected to the registration details so as to with draw money from their accounts.

To this end, the Payment Systems department of BoG is advising mobile money operators to strengthen internal controls in order to minimise the incidence of fraud. All telecom operators have been ordered to re-register their SIM cards to help curb fraud.

Re-registration is set to commence this month after the National Identification cards are in place. At least this is what is expected on paper, and it is a welcome development since deepening financial inclusion in a bid to formalise the economy has proved quite a daunting task.

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Thus, if we are able to make mobile money transactions less susceptible to fraud, then we will be a step closer to deepening financial inclusion, since the informal economy – which is larger than the formal – has a lot of people registered with mobile money and undertakes various transactions through the medium.

The figures presented by the BoG demonstrate how popular mobile money transactions have become in the economy, and their potential to deepen financial inclusion in recent times. It is a ready tool for deepening financial inclusion that must be exploited to the utmost.

Decades of de-investment in agriculture must be corrected…

A reputable banker, Alhassan Andani-CEO of Stanbic Bank, recently stated emphatically at the Agriculture forum organised by Graphic Business that agri-business in the country today is far from being attractive to lenders.

This comes against the backdrop that agriculture is being starved of the credit needed to make it as viable as it has the potential to be. However, the Private Enterprise Federation (PEF) has initialled a promising agreement with a pan-African organisation, Grow Africa, in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will make is easier for investors to inject money into the agriculture value chain.

What makes the agreement even more important is the fact that Grow Africa is a partnership founded jointly by the African Union (AU), NEPAD and the World Economic Forum in 2011 to increase private sector investment in agriculture.

Basically, the aim is to enable countries realise the agriculture sector’s potential for economic growth and job-creation. It is no wonder CEO of PEF, Nana Osei Bonsu, described the MoU as a win-win situation that will contribute to making Ghana a net producer of food as well as being an exporter. Grow Africa has extensive partnerships with diaspora agriculture actors that can be brought to bear domestically.

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As it has been said on various platforms, the challenge is to make agriculture – an endeavour which the majority of Africans are engaged in – into be a business that thrives, and not an endeavour to merely subsist on as is the case for the roughly 51 million farms which are usually smaller than 2 hectares in size.

The prevailing low interest in the agricultural sector as a worthwhile client-base will be the first hurdle to overcome for existing business actors. Platforms such as Grow Africa, which grew out of a multi-country commitment at the World Economic forum and CAADP, are starting to rectify this imbalance.

Agriculture has the potential to transform African economies since the majority of the workforce is engaged in the sector. It has the potential to alleviate poverty, since the majority of farmers are rural dwellers where poverty is at its height.

Today’s farmer can no longer be equated with the subsistence farmer that has dominated Africa’s agricultural narrative for so many decades. They need to imbibe agriculture as a business, and through partnerships with the likes of Grow Africa this transition can be achieved with remarkable speed.

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