5 April 2014

East Africa: National Currencies to Be Used Across EA Borders

Residents of Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania will soon be able to travel with, and use own national currencies in other countries within East Africa as well as making digital cross-border cash transactions in real time.

The new development comes through the recently launched East African Community Project on Payment and Settlement Systems Integration aimed at introducing seamless pay system which will gradually bridge member states' transaction gaps towards the proposed East African Monetary Union.

PSSIP connects the five Central Banks in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi through special technological networking based on the digital fibre-optic backbone to allow seamless and real time transactions.

"This system enhances cross-border payments systems across the EAC region and enables the public to pay as well as receive payments on real time basis and in local currencies," stated Prof Njuguna Ndung'u the Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya during the EAC-PSSIP launch at the EAC headquarters in Arusha recently.

Prof Njuguna explained that the project which is being executed under the first phase of the EAC Financial Sector Development follows a successful initiation of the East African Payment System (EAPS) last November with the latter already bearing fruits as can be seen in the recent successful mobile cash transfers across the region.

On her part the Deputy Governor in charge of Economic and Financial Policies with the Central Bank of Tanzania (BOT), Dr Natu El-Maamry Mwamba, pointed out that the EAC Payment and Settlement Systems Integration will add value to the local monies used by the five Member States and ease the burden of regularly converting currencies whenever one move from one country to another.

"Specifically the project is expected to put in place well-functioning and intergrated Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) Systems in the region and will also support the development of Central Securities Depositories and Core Banking Platforms in the EAC partner states," stated Mr Jacob Mukete a representative from the African Development Bank.

The AfDB is assisting the East African Community in the launching of the Regional Payment and Settlement System said to be the best way of initiating convergence of the markets in the bloc.

The EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Planning and Infrastructure, Dr Enos Bukuku said the PSSIP will bring about solidarity in integration, financial cohesion and inclusive growth plus making the bloc more enticing for foreign as well as local investments.

Experts here also say that the move is another positive development in the tourism sector.

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