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Singapore, Ghana to strengthen cooperation through GIFE project

Singapore and Ghana will be working together to strengthen their cooperation as they collaborate on the Ghana Integrated Financial Ecosystem (GIFE) project through the partnership of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the Bank of Ghana (BOG), Development Bank Ghana (DBG), GCB Bank (GCB) and Consolidated Bank Ghana (CBG).

This was made known after a meeting in Singapore between the Managing Director of MAS, Mr. Ravi Menon; Chief Executive Officer of DBG, Mr. K. Duker; Managing Director of GCB, Mr. Kofi Adomakoh; Managing Director CBG, Mr. Daniel Wilson Addo; Chief Executive Officer of Proxtera, Mr. Saurav Bhattacharya; and Head of Fintech and Innovation of the BOG, Mr. Kwame Oppong. The meeting was held on the sidelines of the Singapore Fintech Festival, and it offered a good opportunity for the group to hold talks on the GIFE project.

The GIFE project seeks to improve financial capabilities and access for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Ghana and to churn out better opportunities for trade and financial services cooperation between the two countries, with the expectation that the integrated financial ecosystem would serve the Asia-Africa SME trade corridor. Structurally, GIFE will offer an open digital infrastructure for MSMEs, which will help them in several ways. These include building foundational digital financial literacy skills and a better appreciation of cross-border financial services and opportunities to expand their business connections across Africa and Asia through a network of business-to-business e-commerce platforms. It will also offer a digital platform through which DBG and its partner financial institutions will provide digital trade finance guarantees for eligible MSMEs and the joint development of financial trust frameworks by MAS, BOG, DBG and other financial institutions to assess credit worthiness for financing through the use of alternative data sets.

Discussions during the meeting centred on the immense opportunities the GIFE platform is expected to create for Ghanaian and Singaporean SMEs. The group was presented with the initial work the team had done in ensuring the SFE-Pillar 1 of the GIFE project was a success. The CEO of Proxtera, Saurav Bhattacharya, presented the team with the traction gained since its conceptualisation and the roadmap for GIFE. He announced that since its launch in June 2022, DBG has sponsored 1.2K SMEs in Ghana on the SFE-Pillar 1 on a pilot basis with 72 percent certified SMEs. He indicated that continuous momentum planned for the next 9 months is to roll out the verification platform and marketplace.

In his remarks, Mr. Menon indicated that although Singapore had not done much in the past with Africa as a whole, he is hopeful that this collaboration will open avenues for more opportunities in other African countries. He was of the view that the SMEs in Singapore and Ghana have relatively the same behavioural pattern, and that the Financial Trust Corridor – FTC will bring confidence in trading between the two countries. He pledged his support for the GIFE project and pointed out that GIFE should be extended to the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and beyond.

On his part, Mr. K. Duker indicated DBG’s commitment to move the project forward to achieve economic growth, thereby creating jobs and building capacity. He expressed DBG’s pleasure in having the opportunity to work with a competent and like-minded team to build Ghana and Singapore SMEs through financial empowerment and verified credentials in order to increase supply of funds. He described it as a ‘laudable venture’, and added that: “DBG recognises the need to widely support SME growth through its objective of providing funding solutions and de-risking services underpinned by technology”.

At the end of the meeting, all the parties – MAS, BOG, DBG, CBG, GCB and the Proxtera – expressed a desire to actively work together to achieve the success of the GIFE project for economic transformation.

 

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