*** In the Photo: Mr. Mike Ogbalu III, CEO of PAPSS (left) and Mr Thapelo Tsheole, President of ASEA and CEO of Botswana Stock Exchange, after signing the MoU on 14 April 2023 ***

By Papa Samba Thiongane

The Pan African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) and the African Stock Exchanges Association (ASEA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance collaboration and cooperation in promoting cross-border payments of Capital Markets infrastructure in Africa. The MoU was signed on 14 April 2023 during the ASEA 2023 Building African Financial Markets Seminar held in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, which brought together Stock Exchanges and capital markets stakeholders from across Africa to discuss ways to deepen integration and connectivity of African capital markets.

For a long time, investors doing business in Africa have struggled with making and settling cross-border payments. Payments take a long time to complete, are expensive since the existing environment necessitates the use of correspondent banks outside of the continent, and are done in foreign currencies (USD or Euro). Because of this, African Export and Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat developed PAPSS, which enables instant cross-border payment in local currency.

Through the umbrella of ASEA, with 9 exchanges and a combined market capitalization of $1.5 trillion, PAPSS provides an opportunity as the payment system to further enhance the African Exchanges Linkage Project (AELP), a flagship project of ASEA to facilitate cross-border trading of securities in Africa. PAPSS has started a period of fast deployment of its system throughout all African nations, having already gone live in the countries comprising the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ), namely Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Gambia, and Guinea. As a result, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Djibouti have recently joined the network and will soon be operational. This partnership with ASEA will also facilitate the deployment of PAPSS across the ASEA member nations.

Commenting on the signing, the Chief Executive Officer of PAPSS, Mr. Mike Ogbalu III, said: “PAPSS supports a wide variety of use cases, including cross-border retail and trade transactions for individuals and corporations and cross-border investments with the African Stock Exchanges. Consequently, working with ASEA, which pioneered the AELP with cross-border securities trading as a central tenet, is a significant step towards the rollout of PAPSS throughout the continent.

“This partnership is a demonstration of our commitment to driving trade flows and economic growth in Africa. Through our collaboration, we aim to create a reliable and efficient payment system that will enable investors to easily trade across different stock exchanges on the continent. Our immediate task is to create a workforce between PAPSS and ASEA as soon as possible to identify ways to facilitate the transfer of funds across ASEA member African stock exchanges. To that end, I’d like to extend an invitation to the relevant capital markets stakeholders to join us in this ground-breaking venture for the African business and investment communities.”

The President of ASEA and Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Stock Exchange, Mr Thapelo Tsheole, said: “We are delighted to partner with PAPSS on this important initiative. Our capital markets integration initiative through the AELP will play a critical role in deepening Africa’s capital markets and promoting cross-border investment. PAPSS’s expertise in payment settlement will be instrumental in the cross-border transfer of funds among the participating exchanges.”

PAPSS is unwavering in its dedication to fostering the growth of a thriving payment ecosystem and encouraging the development of new solutions for the economic advancement of the African continent and its people.

*****

About PAPSS
The Pan-African Payment and Settlement System – PAPSS is a centralized Financial Market Infrastructure that enables the efficient flow of money securely across African borders, minimizing risk and contributing to financial integration across the regions. PAPSS works in collaboration with Africa’s central banks to provide a payment and settlement service to which commercial banks and licensed payment service providers across the region can connect as ‘Participants’. Afreximbank and the African Union (“AU”) first announced PAPSS at the Twelfth Extraordinary Summit of the African Union held on July 7, 2019, in Niamey, Niger Republic, therefore adopting PAPSS as a key instrument for the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). Further, in its thirteenth (13th) extraordinary session, held on the December 5, 2020, the assembly of African Union recommitted and instructed the Afreximbank and the AfCFTA secretariat to finalize among others, work on the Pan-African Payments and Settlements System (PAPSS). The 35th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the AU, further directed the AfCFTA and Afreximbank to deploy the system to cover the entire continent. PAPSS was officially launched in Accra, Ghana on January 13, 2022, thus making it available for use by the public.