Last week – Uganda Communications Commission hosted a team from the COMESA Business Council to discuss the Regional Digital Inclusion Project.

The COMESA Business Council is implementing a Digital Financial Inclusion programme that supports the design, development and deployment of an integrated regional digital retail payment platform that is low-cost, interoperable and fraud-resistant to serve Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the region.

The project is being implemented in nine pilot countries, namely Uganda, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia.

To drive the project, the COMESA Business Council hired consultants whose assignment is to design a business model on the operation of a regional digital retail payment platform for MSMEs in the COMESA region.

The proposed model is expected to include the role of operators, platform design, legal and administrative support, and institutional and governance requirements, among others.

As a critical stakeholder in digital financial inclusion, UCC was invited to engage with the consultants, and a meeting was held at the head office in Bugolobi on November 2, 2021.

The Commission was represented by key staff members Kenneth Tweheyo, Abdul Musoke, Kenneth Lenox Seguya and Umar Ssemakula. The COMESA Business Council Team, on the other hand, had Mika Mumba Chundu, James Kalengo, Yoseph Wondimu and Michael Mbuthia.

The UCC team briefed their guests on Uganda’s preparedness in relation to policy, infrastructure and access, among others. The two parties also discussed the issue of best practices around Know Your Customer (KYC) processes, pricing models, costing inputs of mobile financial services such as USSD, and regulatory interventions on cross border remittances.

The COMESA team expressed gratitude to the Commission for its continued support on regional projects and promised to share their report findings for further engagement.

Once in motion, the programme is expected to increase volumes of cross-border transactions, enhance financial inclusion and increase the visibility of African products within regional markets. This will directly address the intra-trade deficit in the region.

Key outcomes of this project include COMESA member states adopting the implementation of a harmonised digital common payment policy framework for MSMEs in the region.

Establishing legal frameworks and digital financial solutions that support affordable, real-time digital transactions among MSMEs will empower informal traders to grow their businesses and participate in the formal markets, hence fighting poverty in the COMESA region.

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is a 21-member trade bloc that seeks to promote economic prosperity through regional integration.

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