Wednesday, July 01, 2009

African countries tasked on e-payment gateway

Director-General of South African Department of Communications (DoC) and one of the Executive Committee members of NEPAD e-Africa Commission, Mrs. Lyndall  Shope-Mafole has tasked African countries to explore the e-Payment Gateway of the commission worth USD 100 million, about N14.7 billion.

The NEPAD Africa e-Payment Gateway is an e-tourism project intended to benefit the African continent by reducing the costs of doing tourism business. 

Also, the project is to facilitate African citizens and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to receive direct payments from anywhere in the world at a more cost effective and efficient method akin to that used in developed economies.

The objective, according to NEPAD’s official, is to bring revenue directly into Africa using an African owned and operated infrastructure that will directly impact the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of African economies.

Speaking after a session of the Executive Committee attended by representatives including Nigeria, recently in South Africa, Ms. Shope-Mafole emphasized the importance of the project to the continent and precisely the South African government in its efforts to ensure that all African countries participate in, and benefit from the FIFA World Cup 2010, which will be hosted by South Africa.

Also speaking, the NEPAD e-Africa Commission Executive Deputy Chairperson, Dr Henry Chasia, said that while engaging in this project, his organisation will seek to enhance policy and regulatory reforms intended to facilitate and accelerate electronic commerce (e-commence).

The Project Manager for e-Payment Gateway, Mr. Ahmed Kassam said the project is intended to provide African businesses, citizens as well as governments with efficient and affordable access to electronic commerce platforms.

“… And provide each country with the ability to increase tourism and SME sector revenues without incurring the high costs charged by existing third party platforms residing outside of Africa,” he said.

In addition, he said, the project could secure e-Tourism transactions by creating an Escrow account that would hold the payment until the customer was satisfied.

He explained that the project is a joint partnership between African and international investors initially targeting the tourism sector but broad in scope to cater for the SMEs in other non-tourism sectors that do not have the resources to market and conduct electronic commerce through the Internet independently.

He stressed that it is intended that African entities would hold the majority of shares in the venture, noting that NEPAD e-Africa Commission has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) to support the design, development and roll-out of the gateway. 

As said by him, the cost of deploying this payment gateway is about USD 100 million, and is estimated  to be more economical than if each country was to design and implement its own gateway.

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