Russian, West African banking associations agree to establish ties

By bne IntelliNews September 29, 2023

Banking associations whose members include nearly all Russian and Western African lenders have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) towards furthering ties, including through developing new technologies and implementing programs to support cooperation in the financial sector, TASS reports.

The Association of Banks of Russia (ARB) and the West African Bankers' Association (WABA) signed the MoU at the ongoing 20th International Banking Forum, organised by the Russian grouping, in Sochi (September 27-30), according to the state news agency.

“Our surveys show that Russian banks note the importance of establishing contacts and organizing interbank interaction to support economic relations with African countries,” ARB president Georgy Luntovsky is quoted as saying.

“We expect that our cooperation will promote the development of trade and direct payments between West African countries and Russia, including using national currencies.”

ARB unites more than 250 organizations, including more than 150 banks and credit institutions, accounting for 90% of all assets of the country’s banking system and deposits of individuals, according to TASS.

WABA was founded under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a regional bloc of 15 countries. More than 240 banks operate on their territory. It includes national banking associations, credit institutions and nine central banks of West African countries.

In March, the military junta ruling Burkina Faso suggested creating a joint bank with Russia to facilitate financial transactions between the two countries and promote trade.

“I think that when it comes to strengthening cooperation with Russia in key areas of the economy, it is very important that we explore the possibility of creating a joint bank between Russia and Africa with a branch in Burkina Faso,” said Ousmane Bougouma, the speaker of the country’s Transitional Legislative Assembly.

Burkina Faso is one of eight countries in West and Central Africa to have experienced coups since 2020, having ousted President Roch Kabore in January 2022, blaming him for failing to contain violence by Islamist militants.

An attempt to topple the military regime in Burkina Faso has been foiled by the country’s intelligence and security services, officials announced on September 27.

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