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A new payment system (PAPSS) to revolutionize payments in Africa.

By William Gaviyau

Imagine a centralized platform for payments and settlements related to intra-African trade!

Historically, conducting business in Africa has been a challenge because of issues with making and clearing cross-border payments. Payments are made in denominated foreign currencies (such as US$, GBP or Euro) and take a long time to process. Also, they are costly because the current financial system requires using correspondent banks.

For this reason, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat and the African Export and Import Bank (Afreximbank) created PAPSS, which allows for instantaneous cross-border payments in local currency.

African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) developed the Pan-African Payment Settlement System (PAPSS) in collaboration with the African Union and the AfCFTA Secretariat a centralized platform for payments and settlements related to intra-African trade and commerce.

In addition to facilitating payments, PAPSS supports the Africa Continental Free Trade Area accord (AfCFTA) and formalizes informal cross-border trade. The goal of this is to promote trade and commerce between corporate and retail clients.

This financial market infrastructure facilitates real-time settlement of intra-African trade and payments in African currencies, across the continent.

By uniting central banks from across Africa, PAPSS seeks to address the existing challenges faced by African businesses and individuals in accessing efficient and cost-effective cross-border payment services.

Thus, revolutionize cross-border payments, making them faster, cheaper, and more secure than ever before.

Current Members and Role Players 

PAPSS has steadily expanded its footprint in Africa, establishing itself in four regions. This network includes 13 central banks, with 6 in the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) region (Nigeria, Ghana, Guinea, Gambia, Liberia, and Sierra Leone), 3 in East Africa (Kenya, Rwanda, and Djibouti), 3 in Southern Africa (Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi), and 1 in North Africa (Tunisia).

This payment system brings together a network of central banks, commercial banks, payment service providers, and other financial intermediaries, fostering economic benefits by simplifying the payment landscape across the African continent. Trust and compliance with global regulatory standards ensure a reliable system for more Africans to trade with each other.


Will address the challenges and facilitate intra-African trade by providing an alternative to the current expensive and lengthy correspondent banking relationships, through a simple, low-cost and risk controlled instant payment clearing and settlement system. The following are the benefits expected to be accrued:

For Corporates, SMEs, and Individuals:

  • instant/near-instant payments for cross-border transactions without currency conversion hassles. Enables client’s to fully fund their trade obligations as against the current fragmented client’s foreign exchange purchase model. 
  • improves working capital through payment certainty and faster transactions.
  • access to various payment facilitating options via a growing network of financial intermediaries.

For Financial Intermediaries (Banks and Payment Service Providers):

  • Simplifies the process reduces costs and complexities of foreign exchange for cross-border transactions between African markets.
  • instant and secure cross-border payment capability for customers across Africa.
  • innovation opportunities in cross-border trade and access to new African markets. Drive the Africa Continental Free Trade Area agreement (AfCFTA) to yield growth in transactional activities (trade and payments) from corporates and retail clients.

For Governments and Central Banks:

  • Removes the dependencies on third currencies and correspondent banking thereby facilitating intra-African trade.
  • Eases pressure on current accounts and demands for foreign exchange liquidity. Thus, reduces pressure on the foreign exchange liquidity being provided by the Central bank. 
  • Increases transparency of cross-border trade activity.
  • Enhances financial inclusion opportunities and improves economic growth through intra-African trade.

The full adoption of the Pan African Payment Settlement System (PAPSS) by African countries will facilitate companies to trade without the hindrances and boost the continent’s intra Africa growth.

PAPSS is the game changer in facilitating and spurring intra Africa trade by encouraging the development of new payment solutions for the economic advancement of the African continent and its people. 

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