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Despite the slowdown in economic activity, the banking sector is growing. The statement emanates from the Financial Stability Committee whose meeting held on 09 May 2017 in Yaoundé.

The Financial Stability Committee in Central Africa (FSC-CA) held its first meeting for 2017 on 09 May 2017 in Yaoundé, chaired by Abbas Mahamat Tolli, Governor of the Bank of Central African States (BEAC). The agenda included the analysis of macroeconomic conditions. In general, the Central Africa sub region is doing well, despite a few situations, such as the slowdown in activity that led to the deceleration of growth in 2016 or the deterioration of the terms of trade in 2017.

However, According to Abbas Mahamat Tolli, "the financial system of the sub region is still strong", which will lead to a resumption of activity. Forecasts predict a growth rate of 1.7% in 2017, far from the 0.2% recorded in 2016.

For instance, the banking sector, which accounts for approximately 96% of the financial system of the Community of Central African States (CEMAC), is growing, “even if the pace is not the desired one”, the governor says. However, the banks of the Community deplore the weakness of the banks' portfolio and a high rate of non-recoverable loans. "Banks finance companies and organizations that have good credit standing, and this reduces their portfolio as small and medium-sized enterprises are kept aside. That is why it is important that the counterparty risk is better assessed and that SMEs provide strong guarantees to reassure the banks", Abbas Mahamat Tolli adds. This has led to the creation of banks dedicated to SMEs.

The Committee also discussed the development of new forms of payment (electronic and mobile). For the governor of the BEAC, the financial institution is ready to play its regulatory role, "because it is difficult to stop innovation". It is now a matter of taking measures to frame these innovations, so that they do not threaten the system in place. "Mobile operators have the authority to make mobile payments, in cooperation with banks. We are working to strengthen the laws to avoid adverse effects", Abbas Mahamat Tolli says. These include money laundering and terrorist financing, which are a source of concern for some.

It should be noted that the Committee noted progress in strengthening the sub-regional financial system. These include raising the BEAC's key interest rate (2.45 to 2.90%) to limit the currency outflow. The FSC-CA also adopted the matrix of member-specific recommendations and encouraged them to continue and intensify their efforts, particularly in the areas of public finance and statistics.

Source: adapted from the article “Crise en zone CEMAC: le système financier résiste”, Cameroon Tribune www.cameroon-tribune.cm

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