The West African Monetary Institute (WAMI) and the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), have signed a $2 million grant agreement to strengthen the ability of the Institute and stakeholders to attain the monetary union goal by 2015.

The move is aimed at facilitating the preparatory activities for the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) among member countries.

The deal was clenched in Accra by Mr John Tei Kitcher, Acting Director of WAMI who signed on behalf of the Institute whilst Dr Fannie Leautier, Executive Secretary of ACBF initialled for her outfit.

The grant will support the implementation of WAMI’s medium-term Strategic Plan (2010-2015), which is based on five core pillars of Macroeconomic Convergence, Research and Statistical Harmonisation; Trade and Regional Integration; Financial Sector Integration; Payments System Infrastructure, and Institutional and Capacity Building.

WAMZ was formally launched by the Heads of State and Government of Ghana, The Gambia, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone in December 2000, with the objective of establishing a single currency. The membership was increased when Liberia joined the Zone in February 2010.

The WAMZ agreement provides for the establishment of other institutions including WAMI, which has the primary mandate of undertaking all necessary tasks that will lead to the setting of the West African Central Bank.

Dr Leautier said ABCF support to WAMI promises long-term results in the sub-region, which includes improving the quality of statistical data and enhancing reporting standards in line with the global best practices.

The other benefits comprise the enhancement of macroeconomic surveillance with the convergence criteria and other structural benchmarks.

There will also be the development of an electronic library to facilitate the conduct of relevant research; enhancement of the capacity of the central banks in monetary policy management; increasing financial system stability and reducing fraud as well as stepping up WAMI’s organisational efficiency and effectiveness.

These efforts Dr Leautier said are expected to improve in the long-run ECOWAS Member States economies and lead to a higher Gross Domestic Product growth.

“Let me emphasise that for ABCF, our partnership with WAMI is a strategic and mutually beneficial one that promotes Africa’s development agenda.

Mr Kitcher said the monetary union was to commence in January 2003, after a convergence process, “however, following the inability of member countries to meet the minimum stipulated criteria, the launching of the union has suffered three postponements with the new date scheduled for January 1, 2015”.

He said the Institute had increased its resources four-fold through external partners, while reducing the contribution of member countries.

WAMI is developing payment systems in The Gambia, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone with an African Development Bank grant of $30 million.

“We have also played a pivotal role in the establishment of the College of Banking Supervisors of the WAMZ to promote regional financial stability,” he said.

Mr Kitcher said the ongoing Greek financial crisis and its impact on the Euro zone and the global economy, highlighted the need for more robust technical preparations for aspiring monetary unions, including the WAMZ.

Some WAMI’s key achievements from July 2008 to December 2011 are the enlargement of the membership of the WAMZ with the admission of the Republic of Liberia by convening a Heads of State Summit in February 2009. It had also convened seven Convergence Council meetings of the WAMZ.

The Institute prepared six statutes approved by the Convergence Council covering the West African Central Bank; West African Supervisory Authority; Single Economic Space and Prosperity Agreement; Banking Statute of the WAMZ; Non-Bank Financial Institutions Statute; Payment Systems Statute. In addition, The Fiscal Responsibility Act was also prepared.

WAMI has put in place reforms to strengthen the institutional mechanisms and internal control including the setting up Operations Committee and Corporate Services Committee and several policies.

The corporate body instituted the Ministers of Trade Forum and convened four meetings of the Forum to enhance trade related issues as well as a trade and investment forum in London in May 2011, which brought together Ministers, Governors of Central bank, investment bankers, financiers, and other private sector stakeholders.

In the area of knowledge and capacity building, recognising the need to support member countries in building capacity to implement the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), WAMI in collaboration with Euro-money organised a high level training on IFRS. All participants were sponsored by WAMI.

WAMI organised a seminar with the Centre for Research on Political Economy on regional integration in West Africa, the outcome of which is being published as a book.

Source: GNA


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