13th June 2024

Executive Chairman of Africa Prosperity Network, Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko

Africa Prosperity Network (APN), organisers of Africa Prosperity Dialogues (APD), in collaboration with the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) secretariat, is set to organise an international symposium on advancing interoperability on the African continent.

The symposium will take place on July 5, 2024, at the Labadi Beach Hotel, Accra. lt will be held under the theme “Advancing Continental Interoperability for Africa’s Economic Prosperity, Scaling Up Interoperability – Using Mobile Money to Buy & Sell Across Africa.”

Announcing upcoming event at yesterday at a press briefing,  the Executive Chairman of Africa Prosperity Network, Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, stressed the need to achieve interoperability on the African continent. He urged stakeholders, including central banks and telecommunications regulators and organisations, Telcos, Fintechs, political leadership in Africa and the media, to support the push for interoperability.

“Our focus as Africa Prosperity Network has been how we, together with our partners, can push the advocacy for a continent-wide interoperability. It will need the support of the media, it needs political will, it needs the buy-in of the central banks, it needs the buy-in of the regulators, and more importantly, the buy-in of the leadership of the continent, the regions, and the leadership of the various countries,” he said.

“We believe that if we can get interoperability working, particularly in the areas where tens and millions of medium, small, and micro-scale enterprises on the continent operate, it will really make meaningful the whole idea of intra-African trade,” he added.

Integrating payment systems

Dr Kenneth Ashigbey, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, shared a challenge he had faced while making a payment due in Abuja from Accra. According to him, after spending three-nights in Abuja where he had attended a meeting, the hotel staff had charged him for two nights instead of three.

The challenge began upon his arrival in Accra when he tried finding payment solutions for the extra night at the hotel. For Dr Ashigbey, the challenge he encountered was symptomatic of the payments and settlements difficulties that exist on the African continent.

According to him, after embracing interoperability, Ghana changed its payment system infrastructure. “This quickly enhanced financial inclusion in the country, beyond what the traditional banks have been able to do for all the several years they have operated in Ghana,” he said.

“AfCFTA will not happen if we don’t integrate [Africa’s] payment systems. The only way AfCFTA will happen, the only way African Union (AU) will happen, is when people are doing business together,” Dr Ashigbey indicated.

“Africa is leading the mobile money conversation, so if we really would want to integrate and get businesses happening, the place to do it is to make sure that we are interoperable and to do it on the fintech platform using mobile money as a base and allowing our fintech to also be able to operate on that,” he added.

Erasing the borders

The CEO of Blue Space, Mr Samuel Amannor, said prosperity cannot happen without opportunity, noting that interoperability has the potential for delivering the opportunities needed for prosperity in Africa.

He said interoperability has the power to remove the borders that separate the countries on the continent.

“Interoperability is the eraser to bring us together. It is the eraser that will bring the selling and the buying to another level. It is the eraser that we need to prevent these invisible lines that have been painted,” Mr Amannor said.

 

Media partnership

Gayheart Mensah, executive board member of APN, urged the media to take particular interest in the interoperability agenda of the African continent. He appealed to them to use their platforms to support this mission to integrate trade activities in Africa and among Africans.

“What Africa Prosperity Network is looking for is prosperity for Africa. Prosperity for Africa can only come if we can integrate our economies, align our value chains, and make sure that we trade a lot more among ourselves. We have everything on this continent, we can shut this continent and remain self-sufficient,” Mr Mensah said.

The symposium on interoperability, according to Gayheart Mensah, will bring together stakeholders in the entire value chain from the telecommunication sector, banking, political leaders, among others, to discuss the concept of interoperability and establish exactly what the continent needs to do to make interoperability a reality on the continent.

 

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