6TH GHANA INTERNATIONAL TRADE & FINANCE CONFERENCE – GITFiC 2022

INTRODUCTION

Some barriers persist at local, regional, and international levels that affect formal and informal trade, the level of economic growth, and regional integration attainable. In Africa, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for, approximately, 80 percent of the continent’s businesses but trading across borders is notably expensive and lengthy due to non-tariff and regulatory barriers. The informal cross-border trade in Africa, which represents 43 percent of the official GDP, lacks effective payment, regulatory and institutional frameworks to support cross-border digital trade, and fragmented regulatory frameworks. This continues to limit the potential to unlock the benefits of intra-African trade. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) aims to accelerate intra-African trade, boost economic growth, and strengthen economic integration among African countries. To enable the implementation of the AfCFTA, an evaluation of opportunities and bottlenecks for cross-border digital payments in the region is fundamental. Cross Border Payments and Settlement serves as an essential step for economic recovery and inclusivity due to the impact of COVID-19 on businesses and economies. Cross Border Payments and Settlement has expanded rapidly in recent years, facilitated by improvements in technology and the emergence of new digital products and business models. However, despite the growing importance of Cross Border Payments and Settlement, little is known about its nature and scale, raising questions over the ability of current data collection methods to keep up the pace with the rapidly changing nature of modern trade. The lack of a common conceptual definition and understanding of Cross Border Payments and Settlement has contributed, in part, to the lack of data. Lack of understanding about the scale and impact of Cross Border Payments and Settlement poses major challenges for policymakers who need better evidence to understand the implications of Cross Border Payments and Settlement and develop appropriate policy responses.

SCOPE

The 6th Ghana International Trade and Finance Conference 2022 will entail, among others, an assessment on how Mobile Money Transactional Penetrations in Africa can be a catalyst to transform traditional offline payments to cross border digital payments and enable micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises to engage beyond the informal sector, domestic markets, and participate in the formal sector and international markets. The 6th Ghana International Trade and Finance Conference 2022 aims to provide an up-to-date understanding of the effectiveness and efficiency of digital payment vis-a-vis Mobile Money Transactional Penetrations in Africa; a Catalyst to solving Cross Border Payment & Settlement Issues. Understanding what Cross Border Payment & Settlement is and its scale is important, given its increasing prominence in the modern economy and the complexity of the domain. Considering that, the nature of Cross Border Payment & Settlement is very different from traditional payment systems; this also causes policymakers and legislators to design regulations that sufficiently address the challenges associated with these forms of cross-border transactions. Concerning this, there is an understanding that Cross Border Payment & Settlement presents an opportunity for economic growth in the modern-day economy. This supports governmental objectives of breaking down trade barriers and promoting competitiveness, as well as growing a strong, inclusive, and innovative economy and facilitating an efficient digital evolution. The gains associated with facilitating Cross Border Payment & Settlement through Mobile Money Penetration would contribute to national economic prosperity. Within this context, improvements in statistics to measure Cross Border Payment & Settlement provide the first step to effective policy-making to encourage and address the challenges of, Cross Border Payment & Settlement. The 6th Ghana International Trade and Finance Conference 2022, therefore, seeks to update the evidence base of what is currently available, in terms of data on digital trade and in doing so, identify potential options for estimating the value of Cross Border Payment & Settlement given the current data gaps.

THE ROLE OF THE VARIOUS FINANCIAL SECTORS

From the financial sectors’ point of view, the development of a safe and efficient national payment system has relevance for monetary policy, financial stability, and economic development interests. Central Banks, therefore, monitor developments in the payment systems to assess their impact on the demand for money, monetary policy, and financial system stability. In Africa and elsewhere, the Central Banks have been playing multifaceted roles like operators, owners, facilitators, regulators, overseers, users, and service providers of their national payment systems. Through these roles, Central Banks have acquired expertise, skills, and in-depth knowledge on the role of the payment mechanisms in the financial system and the economy. There is the need to make use of this expertise and share it with others in the region and elsewhere. A regional or continental payment initiative would be a vehicle, which would help to achieve this objective. Central Banks can advise on payment-related financial policy and act as effective catalysts, together with private sector organizations, in initiating, promoting, and contributing to Cross Border Payment & Settlement reforms. The 6th Ghana International Trade and Finance Conference 2022 would focus on the role the financial institutions in Africa have their ability to play the leadership or catalyst role by providing policy directions, preparing roadmaps in consultation with stakeholders, and guiding national and regional Cross Border Payment & Settlement System reforms and taking the responsibility to develop a common payment policy framework acceptable to all countries in the Region.