President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has welcomed the decision of the African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim Bank) to pilot the Pan African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) in the West Africa Monetary Zone.
He explained that West Africa had been grappling with the single currency for nearly three decades, and apart from studies and different decisions by various authorities of ECOWAS, it had not made the progress it should have, and said the move would help a great deal.
President Akufo-Addo stated this when the Secretary General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, Mr Wamkele Mene, and the President of Afrexim Bank, Prof. Benedict Oramah, led a delegation from the two bodies to call on him at the Jubilee House in Accra yesterday.
PAPSS is the first centralised payment market infrastructure for processing, clearing and settling of intra-African trade and commerce payments.
It is an arm of the Afrexim Bank, which is a pan-African multilateral financial institution, established in 1993 for the purpose of financing and promoting intra and extra African trade.
President Akufo-Addo noted that the payment and settlement system was a route which could be effective in terms of its ability to facilitate trade and investment in the ECOWAS trade.
He stated that ECOWAS had committed itself to the pilot project which was being undertaken by the Afrexim Bank, and said it was good to hear that the pilot project was on course.
He said he was inspired by the information and work that the Afrexim Bank had undertaken to advance the course of the development of the continent through trade and industrialisation.
President Akufo-Addo stressed that trade and investment among Africa was the surest route to deliver Africa out of poverty because these examples abounded in Asia, America and other areas.
He welcomed the efforts of the institution to work strenuously and put in place pragmatic measures to bring about this, saying it was extremely important for Africa, and gave an assurance that Ghana was committed to the realisation of Africa’s trade and development.
He said the role of Afrexim Bank had conferred on itself the enabler of the intra-Africa trade for the development of the continent, adding that, that was exceptional and should be supported by all.
Prof. Oramah said the bank took the decision to brief President Akufo-Addo because he was the AU champion for Financial Institutions and intra-free trade.
He said with the commencement of AfCTFA, there were a number of institutional developments, including the Pan-African Payments and Settlements System that they were working on.
He explained that the system that was being developed with the AfCFTA, the African Union and the various central banks to ensure that payments in inter-regional trade in Africa were done through local currencies.
For instance, he said, when a Ghanaian wanted to buy a shirt from Egypt, he would not need dollars to pay for it to be changed to Egyptian pound, but the Ghanaian would just pay for it in Ghana cedis.
Prof. Oramah gave an assurance that significant progress had been made in that aspect, and said that would save Africa $5 billion a year in payment transaction cost and also bring back over $40 billion that was diverted from the continent yearly due to currency differences.