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WABA wants strong financial institutions in West Africa

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During the 65th ordinary meeting of the executive council of the institution in partnership with the Gambia Bankers Association held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel on June 17, 2014, officials revealed the need to forge a common understanding around critical issues, exchange ideas and experiences on integrating financial matters in West Africa. 

Formally opening the meeting, Amadou Kolley, the Governor of the Central Bank of The Gambia said: “Banks are extraordinary institutions not only for what they do, but what they can do. Banks are the brain of the economy and allocate resources to where they are productively and better utilised. They mobilise and pool savings; produce information on possible investments so that resources can be channeled to their most productive use, monitor the use of funds, facilitate trading and ease the exchange of goods and services. Simply put, we cannot do without banks. Given that they are the centres of economic and financial activity and are the key to monetary policy implementation, banks have a unique and fiduciary responsibility to provide safety and a reasonable return to depositors. And put differently, they have a responsibility to work for the economy and by so doing reap the benefits of a stronger GDP growth in a virtuous cycle.  Also, under the auspices of the West Africa Monetary Zone, member states are committed to integrate our financial systems. We salute the critical role WABA is playing in this endeavour and the efforts to build upon the success achieved so far.

Mr Colley further stated that banks have a crucial role to play as providers of financial services in the sub-region to ensure robust payments and settlements systems. He said it was important to commend WABA on its position as a fulcrum for the rapid development of the banking sector in West Africa.

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“As key providers of financial services in West Africa, banks have a crucial role to play in ensuring a robust and efficient payments and settlements systems. Unfortunately, transactions continue to be predominantly cash. Besides, the limited electronic transfers between our countries pass through correspondent banks located thousands of miles away from our territories. I am reliably informed that WABA is considering a project to integrate settlement through the West African Clearing House. This is commendable and we look forward to receiving concrete and practical proposals on the project.”

Eddy Ogbogu, president of the West Africa Bankers Association said the development and integration of the financial sector of the sub-region was dependent on the commitment of partners to ensure that they achieve their objectives. He noted that it was an opportunity for the association to come to The Gambia to harness means of support and participation of members to attain their financial obligations.

“As part of the priority issues, I want us to use this meeting to discuss on the very important subject of membership subscriptions and to receive your renewed commitment to abide by the agreement. It is now clear that the relevance and the role of the association are no longer in doubt as we have the collective responsibility to ensure that we do the right things and properly guide the association to achieve the objectives for which it was set. I have been speaking to some of my colleagues on this issue especially in areas where there is general apathy in the affairs of the association and we now renewed the awareness that such attitude stems from not getting closer to the activities of the association. We require your renewed commitment and cooperation especially in attending programmes organised by WABA and fulfilling your financial obligations. Let us use our platform as an association to forge a common understanding and framework around issues of commonality to our members and in the drive towards the financial integration of the sub-region. For the association to perform better, we request for your active participation in the discussions at this meeting so that at the end, we can come up with concrete suggestions or ideas as strategies that will enhance the achievement of the reasons for establishing this association.”

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“WABA has gained support from the committee of governors across the sub-region in their commitment for the development and integration of the financial sector of West Africa. It is appropriate to mention that in the next meeting of the committee of governors slated at the later part of this month, the cross border payments systems project which has been jointly developed by the institution and the ECOWAS commission, will presented to the committee of governors in the sub-region for adoption. We count on the support of the committee for this particular project and should there be any other such needs, we would count on your support also during your meeting. The development of correspondent banking relationships among banks throughout the establishment of cross border payment systems will lead to local lenders of credit being established in support of inter-regional trade instead of undertaking tripartite agreements with Europe and America. This will also open the door for other WABA projects including membership sensitisation in support of the activities of WABA. This undertaking has been successful and is awaiting the adoption by the committee governors of Central Banks of West African states. I want to thank The Gambia Bankers Association for agreeing to host this meeting which will go a long way in enhancing the performance of partners in developing the financial system of the sub-region.”  

In his statement, Pa Macoumba Njie, president of the Gambia Bankers Association and Managing Director of Trust Bank Limited, said his institution was eager to host the meeting as a way of reflecting its overall commitment to the financial integration of West Africa which WABA represents. He noted that WABA fosters the exchange of ideas and experiences in the banking and monetary fields mainly by organising seminars, conferences and consultation on themes that are relevant to true integration. 

“WABA provides short courses for promoting consultation among banks on themes that are relevant for development and strengthening of the West African banking sector. I believe it is in line with strengthening the financial sector that these objectives were formulated so that we, in the region, would jointly and severally have stronger financial institutions which is necessary to foster development. The integration of the sub-region that is on course cannot ignite without a stable banking sector and therefore, it must be guarded against situations that can erode the stability. As part of its ongoing activities, I noted with satisfaction that WABA is undertaking the issue of cross-border payments system which would have a tremendous effect on intra-regional trade in the sub-region. We are happy that the institution provides the platform for us to collaborate and create healthy competition.” 

Yesterday’s meeting was attended by top bankers in The Gambia.


By Lamin Njie


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