Lilongwe, Tuesday, April 30, 2019: Various stakeholders from financial institutions, cross border traders, importers and exporters in Malawi have called for a national workshop to help them build capacity on the use of the COMESA Regional Payment and Settlement System (REPSS).
The stakeholders have requested the COMESA Secretariat to urgently organize the sensitization session which will enable them to understand and fully appreciate the REPSS. The system is currently under-utilized in that country standing at 0.2 percent usage.
This was revealed in Lilongwe during national consultative meetings organized by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism in collaboration with the Central Bank of Malawi. Staff from COMESA Secretariat were also part of the meetings led by the Director of Trade and Customs Dr Francis Mangeni.
Among the key issues raised by the stakeholders were the lack of sufficient information about the REPSS among commercial banks and the private sector. They observed that commercial banks were not involved during the REPSS conception and testing hence there is no ownership of the system among them.
Further, commercial banks do not trust the System due to a perceived view that there could be manual intervention of transactions in the Reserve Bank and customers do not have information on the system therefore are not keen to use it.
The Reserve Bank of Malawi is among the nine Central Banks that are transacting on the REPSS however the uptake of the system is low compared to other Member States. In 2018, Malawi transactions using the REPSS constituted only 0.18% compared to countries like Kenya that recorded 91%.
The meeting resolved that the REPSS should be retested and all relevant stakeholders be involved. In view of this, a technical working group with representatives from the Reserve Bank, commercial banks, ministries in charge of finance and industry and the private sector was constituted. Its mandate is to ensure all the concerns raised are addressed as well as oversee the smooth operation of REPSS in Malawi.
The workshop also received a presentation on the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) and the African Continental Free Trade Area. Malawi was urged to fast track the ratification of the TFTA.