If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late.
I’ve always wanted to use that line. If you’re actually reading this on Monday 18th October 2021, it’s then not too late. You can join us through Zoom conferencing using the link and logins below:
Meeting ID: 912 806 3388
I will be serving as moderator together with the distinguished panel below:
- Mr. Kwame A. Oppong – Head, FinTech and Innovation, Bank of Ghana
- Mr. Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah – Commissioner General, Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA)
- Mr. Julian Opuni – MD, Fidelity Bank Ghana
- Mr. Nana Yaw Owusu Banahene – Country Manager, AZA Finance
- Dyann Heward-Mills – CEO, HewardMills UK
- Mr. Andy Akoto – Partner, KPMG Ghana
Please find below the Line-up for Plenary 2 of Day 1 of the Ghana Economic Forum 2021.
Self-introduction by moderator.
Introduction of what the Panel was set up for.
Topic: Digitalization of the Ghanaian economy: e-currency, electronic payment systems; critical vehicle to promoting economic growth and development.
This panel discussion is about the digital leadership of a person or an organisation, and the country’s preparedness to get on the train to national digitisation. It’s also about understanding our current readiness and the panellist’s views and appetite for paths that could and should be taken.
I wanted the session to be real with real impact. So we’ve given the panellists the opportunity to view the questions beforehand. Some of them are from players in the industry who are in attendance, intended to invoke debate.
So some of these questions might be challenging but we believe that this is what the Ghana Economic Forum has been set up for. For those of us reading the B&FT today, this is the event line-up listed as will happen.
Short introduction of the Panellists, about 30-60sec each, read from their submitted profiles.
Two questions will be put forth to each of them. We shall listen to comments from two organisations. We shall take a couple of questions from the audience, both here and online. Up to 3 minutes shall be given to each panellist for closing remarks. I will give the vote of thanks to panellists and organisers. And then we will conclude the panel.
We begin with a question to Mr Kwame A. Oppong, Head, FinTech & Innovation, Bank of Ghana.
Question to Mr Kwame A. Oppong: To our audience who’ve heard of the coming e-cedi, how different is the e-cedi from the Ghana Cedis I have in my pocket right now and how different is it from the cedi in our bank accounts?
Question to Mr Nana Yaw Owusu Banahene: With the coming of a central bank digital currency (CBDC), it’s worthwhile for us to define what that could mean to the average Joe or most of our audience who are in Business. Nana, what does having a CBDC mean to a business, not unlike yours?
Question to Mr Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah: Whenever I’m stopped in traffic after work by a police barrier, in my younger days I used to just think “hurry up and let me go home”. Now, I see those few seconds to a minute as my contribution to community safety. That’s how I view taxes now; our quota to national development. How will the e-cedi impact our GRA’s mission to aid citizens in contributing their quota, and the fight against tax evasion?
Question to Mr Andy Akoto: The accounting industry has been one that has seen first-hand what it means to migrate from the physical to the digital. What are some of the impact to expect when we drastically reduce the cost of information transfer, which is what I think a CBDC will do?
Question to Dyann Heward-Mills: How can we build trust and ensure good governance in a digital currency, and what data protection protocols on a macro level will help the digital journey along?
Question to Mr Julian Opuni: I don’t think we can talk about digital currencies without mentioning the very widespread use of Mobile Money. Using that as a case study, what do you think has been the biggest impact of mobile money technology on business transactions, at least so far?
Comment from Impact Market: Impact Market is an organisation that raises funding for low-income communities through easily accessible digital currency. I asked, “What are some of the biggest roadblocks that mid-size businesses and entrepreneurs face along the digitisation journey” and their CEO, Marco Barbosa said, and I quote:
“I think some of the biggest roadblocks entrepreneurs face include the lack of policies that incentivize risk-taking, openness to learning new processes/technology, and proper infrastructure (both in finance, technology and education).
Policymakers in the financial, governmental, and tax space need to sit and have well-structured dialogues with MSMEs, entrepreneurs and large corporations to create more accessible processes. Much too often, industry leaders who are at the centre of decision and policy making fail to realise that a broken or ignored system goes on to negatively impact the overall economy of a state or country, and this further goes on to fuel dissent and unnecessary hardships for the very innovators who will move a country forward.
In the specific case of finance and its infrastructure, how have you been preparing for the web3?
I would recommend to do not block/delay innovation and new tech adoption with heavy regulation, especially blockchain. Embrace it, be friendly and welcoming when it comes to new technology exploration. Make efforts to learn first, and listen to the talent and entrepreneurs (the builders of the future). Create conditions where even foreign entrepreneurs would consider moving in.
Some examples to drive more incentives, growth, and align interests, could include much lower tax to new companies for the first years, more investment in tech education and infrastructure, create funding mechanisms to drive more capital to the country (like matching foreign investments in local start-ups), facilitate access to credit and investment, provide tax incentives for big corporations when working with start-ups (either investing or being a customer), and more.
But, most importantly, to drive long-lasting entrepreneurship and prosperity, you need first to empower local talent and unlock their human potential by fighting poverty effectively. Lack of access to finance (unbanked) is one of the main driving forces of poverty. Adopting web3 could dramatically increase efficiency and trust in processes and payments while facilitating access to finance to everyone.
My question to Rev. Owusu-Amoah is what are some processes, incentives or policies that’ll help the digital journey along for MSME’s & Entrepreneurs, businesses at large?
Moderator’s comments on how the national digitisation process can be incorporated by companies:
“We tend to see complete digitisation of an organisation or the country as a scary, bulky process. Companies can start by identifying what departments within their organisation that they can begin to even break down further and then digitise pieces of it, one bit at a time.
Smaller chunks then transform into smaller doable tasks. If you do that, the task doesn’t look as daunting. So it’s basically: what is the manual process, who does it and can it go digital through the plugin of digital innovation.
During the brief lockdown that Ghana underwent, we saw organisations do it successfully. The National Insurance Commission (NIC) got really practical with it. Insurance is Insurance, pandemic or no pandemic but while we were indoors, the NIC introduced the Motor insurance database in 2020.
Yes it was to rid the system of fake insurance policies in order to save lives and to ensure that motorists don’t pay money into the wrong hands but they took the manual process of going to insurance companies, broke down the processes into easily digitised doable tasks, and now from the comfort of my couch, I can press a few buttons on my phone and just like that, we have insurance.”
Question to Mr. Kwame A. Oppong: Speaking of digital innovation, e-cedi definitely has a place in our society together and all the innovation that it’ll bring. I personally 1000% support regulation. My fear with over-regulation is that it stifles creativity and creates black market economies (underground operations that circumvent government protocol). So it’s always important that there be a balance between regulation and a smooth road to innovation.
What is BoG doing with regards to the certification process for the many many FinTech’s that’ll definitely be popping up all over the place once the e-cedi goes live?
Question to Dyann Heward-Mills: Worst-case scenarios are necessary to enable us to picture crucial simulations we can learn from. What happens when things go wrong with a digital currency? Have you ever witnessed any such scenarios? And what’s the remedy here?
Question to Mr Julian Opuni: As the popularity of electronic payment systems increases, I think so will we see a decrease in armed robbery. With the e-cedi, where’s the physical cash to steal. And, non-crypto cyber-money is easier to trace. But we need to arm up for the fight against cybercrime. How can the authorities begin to prepare for this fight?
Let’s take a comment from Mr Rya Kuewor, Speaker & Agenda Contributor at the World Economic Forum and Social Impact Consultant. To him, my question was:
“What is the impact of mobile money technology at the micro-level of trade and commerce? How can it trickle into measurable improvement in the living standards of the average person?”
Below is his answer, to be played at the event by way of a 2-minute audio.
“Mobile money technology has been revolutionary! I believe the crux of its impact was in ensuring and safeguarding ease of payments and the availability of cash for businesses and persons within low-income communities.
With regards to measurable improvements in the living standards of the average person, the GSMA State of the Industry Report for 2019 corroborates the fact that average lives are indeed getting better for it. However, integral questions we now need to ask are: how do we innovate from this point? How do we measure a community’s progress out of poverty? How do we measure the kind of impact we want to have, and lastly and importantly, how do we create robust structures that are sustainable over time?
These structures of measuring and managing our overall impact astutely align with SDGs 1, 3, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 17. A real life example of innovation around mobile money technology is happening right here in Ghana with refugees. The Refugee Integration Organisation is giving refugees in Ghana $1.50 in unconditional basic income every day. This money starts its journey as a crypto currency and finishes as Ghanaian Cedis in a refugee’s mobile money account. Now what is the impact of this? It is creating micro-economies in ultra-low-income communities like refugee camps, improving lives, and contributing to the larger Ghanaian economy.
With our present economic climate and overall stability, Ghana is very well poised to become a beacon in innovating with mobile money technology, and merging our social and communal impact with the sustainable development goals. So in conclusion, moving forward, our primary focus should be, setting a strategy that defines our target outcomes, integrating our different recourse tools and processes, optimising our data collection so we can make intellectually informed decisions, and then reinforcing these structures to deepen their efficacy, and governance.
Thank you very much!”
Question to Mr Andy Akoto: It is a very well documented fact that for successful digital transformation, there needs to be a culture shift. It can’t just be from the authorities or our leaders or our CEO’s. It has to be the entire company, the entire community, the entire country. There needs to be an entire mindset shift across the entire nation. How do we begin to do this?
Question to Mr Banahene: When I’m handing over physical cash to a retailer, there are no charges. What suggestions would you give our stakeholders to incentivise the average citizen to embrace Ghana’s digitisation?
We will take up to 5 questions from the audience (depending on the time).
Closing remarks from each panellist, up to 3 minutes.
Vote of thanks to panellists and organisers.
This will bring the event to a close.
Next week, I shall be publishing the responses we received during the session. If you’re reading this on the day of the event, tune in through the Link shared earlier. Join us. Ask a question or two. Let’s impact!
Have a blessed week!
Author: Maxwell Ampong
Maxwell Ampong is the CEO of Maxwell Investments Group and a Senior Partner at BlackMore Investments, a trade and corporate finance boutique firm. He is also the Official Business Advisor to the largest trade union in Ghana, the General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) of TUC Ghana. He writes about trending and relevant economic topics, and general perspective pieces.
LinkedIn:/in/thisisthemax Clubhouse:@thisisthemax Instagram:@thisisthemax Twitter:@thisisthemax Facebook:@thisisthemax Website: www.maxwellinvestmentsgroup.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Podcast: www.anchor.fm/einu Mobile: 0249993319