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African economies grow

Africa has seen economic gains and is now regarded as one of the most attractive investment destinations.

Speaking at the beginning of Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) Africa Regional Conference  held in Gaborone on May 21, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Mr Kenneth Matambo said the continent has been largely resilient in a competitive and interconnected global economy.

Mr Matambo said even though there are pockets of civil strife and political unrest in some parts of the continent, the number of these troubling events has been significantly reduced and now is moving towards entrenchment of democratic dispensation, adherence to the rule of law, sound economic reforms and overall good economic performance.

“As a result, far from being hopeless, African governments are increasingly able to raise funds from international bond markets, while investment in Africa has grown at an annual rate of nearly 13 per cent since 2007,” he said.

The minister said the transformation is taking place at a time when there is increased economic interconnectedness in which there is a relative shift of power towards emerging markets.

“This shift brings with it increased opportunities for a more equitable sharing of the benefits of global wealth and income,” he said adding in order for this to be realized, there needs to be increased inclusiveness in economic governance at global, regional and sub-regional levels for the benefit of all citizens in the continent.

Mr Matambo said SWIFT plays an important role in further fostering the global inter-connectedness through the financial messaging network and related products and services.

He however said linkages between the economies of Africa remain relatively underdeveloped and urged the participants to explore ways of creating a more cost-effective financial infrastructure that will deepen pan-African economic integration by facilitating trade and capital flows.

“This cannot be achieved without the availability of reliable and secure messaging platforms that will underpin both domestic and cross-border payments and transfers,” the minister said.

The minister decried the low number of people who are banked in sub-Saharan Africa as 27 per cent of men and 22 per cent of women have access to financial services, less than half the number of those in developed countries where 92 per cent of men and 87 per cent of women have access to financial services.

Mr Matambo said communications infrastructure especially mobile money and efficient payment systems play a significant role in financial inclusion.

He said financial inclusion promotes economic development and is a major tool for economic empowerment, especially for women.

It is on this background that the financial development strategy for Botswana is aimed at improving accessibility by building on well-functioning mobile technologies and a more cost-effective access to payments and financial messaging infrastructure. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Tebagano Ntshole

Location : GABORONE

Event : SWIFT conference

Date : May 22 Wed,2013

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