Tarek Amer, governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), announced the completion of the electronic linking of Egyptian banks using the system of clearing and settlement of payments between the member countries of COMESA, which represents a new step towards enhancing relations between Egypt and African countries and facilitates trade between them.
Lubna Hilal, deputy governor of the CBE, said that the new system is one of the regional payment projects that the CBE has been working to implement over the past months on both the African and Arab level in order to increase trade between Egypt and COMESA countries. She noted that the new system reduces banking fees and the time required for settlements. It also increases trust due to the participation of central banks in the system.
Hilal pointed out that all countries of the Nile basin, who are also COMESA members, are considered strong trade partners of Egypt and will be able to conduct financial transactions faster and more efficiently.
For his part, Ayman Hussein, assistant undersecretary of payment and information technology systems, said that the new system includes ten member states until now, namely Egypt, Kenya, Sudan, Congo, Zambia, Rwanda, Mauritius, Uganda, Swaziland, and Malawi. More countries are expected to join soon.
He added that the project is based on establishing a clearing chamber for COMESA countries. Through that chamber, all payment operations between banks in the region will be carried out. Each central bank will play the role of a correspondent for the commercial banks affiliated to it. Each country takes part in the system through its own central bank.
Under these arrangements, each central bank will implement payment, receiving, and money transfer operations of trade banks in its country with the trade banks from other COMESA countries.
According to Mahmoud Mansour, the executive secretary of the regional system for clearing and settlement of payments between COMESA countries that is headquartered in Zimbabwe, Egypt’s participation will play a major role in increasing trade exchange in the African continent due to Egypt’s leading role and trade abilities in Africa, especially as Egyptian exports represent about 25% of the total intra-trade of COMESA countries.