A two-day meeting to discuss how to enhance access to banking and financial services in the West African sub-region ended in Accra last Saturday.
Attended by a cross-section of experts in the banking sector, insurance and stock markets in the sub-region, it was to enable participants draw up a co-ordinated roadmap for increasing the competitiveness of the financial sector.
Mr Daniel Mensah, Executive Secretary, Ghana Bankers Association, told journalists that the workshop explored ways of integrating the various financial sectors in the sub-region to foster socio-economic development.
He said the meeting also reviewed regional, national, government, donor and private sector initiatives and identified priorities for recommendations made during the first session.
A look was also taken at an action plan developed during the first workshop held in Accra last year that sought ways of overcoming hurdles, broaden the range of financial instruments and promote the harmonization of the financial sectors within the sub-region.
Mr Clifford Mettle, Head of Marketing and Corporate Affairs of National Investment Bank, who spoke 'financial Initiatives to Improve Remittance Services for Economic Growth and Development,' stressed the need to foster regional financial flows and develop money transfer products to make payment of bills on services more affordable and attractive.
He said there was also the need to create innovative financial products that would encourage recipients to save part of remittances they received and also enhance the institutional capacity of rural banks, credit unions and microfinance institutions in remittance receiving countries.
Mr Mettle said to create strong, reliable and safe channels through which remittances could flow, the linkages between the financial system of remitting countries and the financial systems of recipient countries must improve.
Mr Rasheed Olaoluwa, Chief Executive Officer, United Bank for Africa International, said banks could facilitate regional financial integration through establishment of offices outside their home country, create regional IT platforms as well as establish a regional Inter-Bank Real Time Gross Settlement System to facilitate efficient trade settlement and funds transfer.