The Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, (GIMPA) has held its first 2019 quarterly public lecture as part of a series of quarterly lectures held yearly.
The lecture explored the topic ‘Establishing a Payment System within the West African Monetary Zone-Challenges and Prospects’, and was organised by the School of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (SOLASS).
The Rector of GIMPA, Prof. Philip Ebow Bondzi-Simpson, emphasised the importance of these lectures, saying they were a way of getting highly-qualified professionals to open dialogue on important issues in the society. “We in academia will continue to open discussions on relevant topics that will affect policymaking in the long run,” he said.
Prof. Bondzi-Simpon indicated the aptness of the topic, adding: “At the end of the lectures, we will be well-informed on what a payment system is, how it came about, when and how it can be implemented in West Africa”.
Presenting the lecture, Dr. Eunice Ngozi Egbuna – the Director-General of the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI) – noted that the West Africa Monetary Zone (WAMZ), which is made up of Ghana, Gambia, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, was established in the year 2000. “The goal was to implement activities including developing a zonal payment and settlement system for cross-border transactions,” she said.
According to Dr. Egbuna, a payment system is any system used to settle financial transactions through the transfer of monetary value; and it includes the institutions, rules, people standards and technologies which make such an exchange possible. “Thus, the establishment of a payment system in the WAMZ is in line with the fourth pillar of the WAMZ strategic plan,” she added.
Dr. Egbuna stated that WAMZ had over the years achieved immeasurable feats in areas such as preference for electronic payments; a reduced cheque clearing time; an increase in digital transactions; and enhanced financial inclusion. The rest are an increase in usage of cheques, increased usage of ATMs and infrastructure upgrade.
Following the success chalked-up, there has been a need to establish the WAMZ Payment and Settlement System (WAMZPSS) and the Pan-African Payment and Settlement Platform (PAPSP) to help facilitate market integration through cross-border trade, and serve as a platform for quoting and trading in local currencies of member-states.
Dr. Egbuna indicated that a lack of funding, skills constraints, cyber insecurity were some of the challenges currently facing the project.
The prospects, according to Dr. Egbuna, however look great, as it is expected that there will be financial inclusion, quoting and trading in WAMZ national currencies; a boost in intra-WAMZ trade; and an increase in economic growth.
“There will also be a boost in tax administration and lower risk with finance, as transactions will be done electronically and with overall enhanced financial supervision in the roll-out of the PAPSP and WAMZPSS,” she stressed.
She is optimistic that the development of an integrated regional wholesale and retail payment and settlements system, which is underway, will help strengthen the efficiency of cross-border funds transfer within the six WAMZ countries.