Digital financial inclusion for MSMEs project is key, COMESA Business Council
The COMESA Business Council (CBC) has implored MSMES to embrace digital finance in their day to day running of business transactions as this will ease trade facilitation.
For this reason CBC has been conducting a business case study under the CBC Digital Financial Inclusion Project for Micro Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs). The study has been carried out across nine pilot countries, namely: Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt and Mauritius.
The objective of the study is to develop a business case for a Regional Common Digital Payment Policy guideline and framework that supports the development of the digital payment scheme for MSMEs in the region.
To this end, the CBC team was recently in Egypt and Mauritius where they met with key industry stakeholders. In Egypt the CBC team met with Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), the Agricultural Export Council (AEC), and the Central Bank of Egypt. Other meetings were held with the Egyptian Micro Finance Federation, Agricultural Bank of Egypt, Agricultural Export Council, AFREXIM Bank and Egyptian Bank Co.
The discussions afforded the CBC team to understand the country’s financial inclusion agenda in its monetary reform and establish multiple synergies with the project. The Digital Financial Inclusion MSME training workshop, organised in collaboration with the Federation of Egyptian Industries’ SMEs was also a resounding success.
Interactions helped the team to gain invaluable insights for the project, coupled with a lively session delving into the scope of how CBC’s Business Facilitation services can support the SMEs in gaining access to wider markets across the region.
In Mauritius, CBC in partnership with the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) ran a highly successful project awareness and consultative workshop with local SMEs and engaged various key stakeholders and drivers of digital financial inclusion to facilitate an understanding of the mechanisms of current trade dynamics.
The meetings also highlighted how digital payments, and partnerships across the region can ease trade and enhance the assimilation of SMEs into larger competitive markets in COMESA through digitally integrated solutions.
Amongst the stakeholder meetings convened were meetings with the Bank of Mauritius; Mauritius ICT Authority; the Ministry of Technology, Communication and Innovation (TCI); Ministry of Financial Services and Good Governance; Ministry of Industrial Development, SMEs and Cooperatives; Economic Development Board (EDB); Mauritius Export Association (MEXA); Mauritius Ports Authority; MCB Microfinance; Standard Chartered Bank; Emtel, and SME traders and companies.
CBC Chief Executive Officer Sandra Uwera who led the team indicated that meetings provided CBC a platform to understand the needs of the Member States.
“From these information-sharing sessions, we were able to gain an appreciation of the existing gaps and collaborative opportunities around electronic payments systems in COMESA, and their immense potential to revolutionize payments in the region,” Ms. Uwera said.