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Payments to COMESA made faster, cheaper

Business

Payments to COMESA made faster, cheaper

BoU Governor Tumusiime Mutebile

Ugandan business people with interests in at least five of the COMESA countries are set to enjoy the benefits of economic integration following the launch last week of a regional payment system that allows payments to be made within one day at very low cost.

According to the Governor of the Bank of Uganda Tumusiime Mutebile, Rwanda, Swaziland and Mauritius on the live platform of the COMESA Regional Payments and Settlements System (REPSS).

Joan Akello, BoU’s Director Payment Systems explained: “It is a payments system that involves money being transferred through the Central Banks.” Akello notes however that for now, only US dollar and Euro denominated payments are allowed under REPSS.

Akello noted that a transaction can be initiated at the commercial bank by a customer asking to have the funds transferred to another customer in one of the member countries using the REPSS.

“What this system is trying to achieve is to remove different layers of banks re-routing transactions which lead to delays and higher transaction charges,” said Akello.

She added that apart from paying the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) charge of Ushs 1500, a customer does not incur additional charges.

The advent of the REPSS, is seen as a major step to realising greater integration of the CEMESA region whose trade has now reached US$ 19 million from US$3.3bn in 2000 according to Akello.

During the recent COMESA Heads of State Summit held in Kinsasha, the capital of DR Congo, President Museveni urged his counterparts to emphasize infrastructural development in the region as key to unlocking the huge hidden potential for trade.

Museveni said: “Africa has a total land area of about 30million sq km, out of which 2.2million sq km is arable land.  25% of the World’s arable land is in Africa.      

“Besides, Africa has got the youngest population with 60% of our population being youth.  If we ensure that these are educated, skilled and healthy, they will be a most powerful engine of growth.

However, as already pointed out, all this potential cannot be unlocked without good infrastructures, especially roads, the railway, electricity, ICT infrastructure, ports and piped water for, at least, the towns.”

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