SWIFT, The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, provides a network that enables financial institutions worldwide to send and receive financial transactions in a secure, standardized and reliable environment. Established in 1973 and being a member owned cooperative, SWIFT has become the industry standard for financial messages between many thousands of banks.
SWIFT organises the annual conference SIBOS, which has become a must-be meeting place for the financial industry. I attended my first SIBOS conference in 1999 in Munich and it was as if all of the worlds banks had descended on the city for presentations, exhibitions, seminars and networking, discussing issues relevant to the financial industry.
However SWIFT has also started to run regional conferences. Africa has emerged as the SWIFT’s fastest growing region, with a 17 per cent increase in total transaction volumes over the SWIFT network in the year ending March 2014. As financial transactions are highly correlated with economic growth, the development can be seen as a validation of the positive growth trends we are witnessing in the region.
The African regional conference was recently held in Marrakesh in Morocco and the theme was “Africa – The next frontier”. It brought together policy makers, bankers and strategic thinkers to explore the key developments that are impacting Africa, and the challenges and opportunities facing our industry.
The conference asked what has been achieved by Africa’s regional integration projects and what milestones can be expected to be reached this year. It also looked at the role of securities markets and what can be done to improve market access, deepen liquidity, and make the African securities markets more efficient.
For an African continent in strong development, conferences like this are important and the event attracted more than 350 delegates from 45 countries with policy makers and senior bankers from across the continent. Below is the opening video from the conference with an interesting summary of Africa´s challenges.