Written by Jonah Nwokpoku
~Vanguard Nigeria. Wednesday, November 9, 2016.
GHANA's apex bank, the Bank of Ghana and Bank of Zambia are currently understudying Nigeria's bank verification number, BVN initiative in order to introduce it into their banking system.
This was disclosed by Director, Banking and Payment System, CBN, Mr. Dipo Fatokun while speaking about the several initiatives the CBN has undertaken to strengthen Nigeria's financial system, at the Swift Business Forum held in Lagos yesterday.
He said: "Under the payment vision 2020, we have actually implemented some reforms. First to be mentioned is the RTGS system. This is one of the systemically important payment infrastructure that we have. And it has assisted in conducting bank transfers and settlements, real time. Another thing that we have done is the bank verification number, which was concluded last year. This has helped a great deal to properly identify bank customers and we are also witnessing drastic reduction of incidence of fraud as a result. And I am glad to say that my colleagues from the Bank of Ghana have visited us, about two weeks ago, to see how this has been done. Our colleagues from the Bank of Zambia are also currently in Nigeria seeing how this was done, with the aim of replicating such in their own country."
Fatokun who was also speaking as a member of a panel discussing, 'Regionalisation and Trade Corridor Evolution in West Africa' pointed out that besides African countries' focus on commodities that offer them comparative advantage and creating incentives to encourage investments, there is need for strong and reliable payment infrastructure to enhance intra-African trade.
According to him, "There is need for structural reforms for us to be able to trade successfully within the West African sub region. Each country will specialise on areas where they have comparative advantage. One of the things that has hindered trade between African countries is because most African countries are commodity producers. So, there is need for countries to restructure their economies so that they can also get involved in activities outside the commodity market.
"Another thing that can be done is to create incentives among countries. For example, tax holidays, market instruments, waivers, etc. And there is no doubting the fact that the central bank of these countries and the ministry of finance, the fiscal authorities, will play critical role in the process.
"More so, we must have infrastructure that will connect all the countries so that people can pay seamlessly across different regions of the continent.
If all these are taken care of, then enhanced intra-African trade is doable. And in pursuing this, the government has the responsibility to create awareness because you can only trade in articles that you need.
If citizens are still consumers of foreign products from Europe, America and Asia, then you need to create the necessary market for the African trade. So on our own, we need to begin to educate our people so that we can encourage trade among ourselves."