Electronic payment system boosts trade among COMESA countries

Electronic payment system boosts trade among COMESA countries

REPSS enables member states to use local currencies in their intra-Comesa trade. Importers and exporters deal with their local commercial banks for trade documentation. (Courtesy image)

The value of transactions processed on the Regional Payment and Settlement System (REPSS) has now crossed $50 million (Shs190b) with nine Central Banks in the Comesa region using the system.

REPSS enables member states to use local currencies in their intra-Comesa trade. Importers and exporters deal with their local commercial banks for trade documentation.

The importer’s payment to the exporter is then channeled through the Central Bank of the importer to the Central Bank of the exporter using the REPSS Platform.

The Central Banks whose internal processes are live on this system are Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Eswatini (Swaziland) and Zambia.

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Commenting about this performance, the executive secretary of Comesa Clearing House Mr. Mahmood Mansoor, said: “REPSS guarantees prompt payment for exports thus eliminating mistrust among traders owing to the involvement of Central Banks.”

The Secretary-General of COMESA, Mr. Sindiso Ngwenya, describes REPSS as an important instrument for developing a policy and institutional framework to enhance monetary integration in the region.

“Modern economies are increasingly based on knowledge,” he said. “As a knowledge, learning and innovation-based organization; COMESA needs to make a paradigm shift in order to ensure that there is more focus on results rather than on processes.”

Central Banks of Burundi, Djibouti, Madagascar, Sudan and Zimbabwe are expected to go live soon after completing ongoing internal processes and readiness aspects.

Central Banks of Comoros, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Libya and Seychelles are also expected to start preparing for the REPSS.

Commenting about this system, Mr. Jjemba Mulondo, the Secretary for mediation in Kampala City Traders Association (Kacita), said: “The system has proved to be cost-effective and traders should embrace it to cut costs.”

By June this year, the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) accounted for 91 per cent of the total value of Dollar transactions while the Bank of Uganda (BoU) accounted for 80 per cent of the value of Euro transactions.

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