COMESA Monetary Institute (CMI), an institution of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) was established in 2011 in Kenya to undertake all the preparatory work for implementing all the stages of the COMESA Monetary Cooperation Programme.
The vision of the institute is to make the region a zone of macroeconomic stability and ultimately achieve a monetary union that will lower the cost of doing business, facilitate intra-COMESA trade and make the region globally competitive and attractive for cross border and foreign investment.
Mr Ibrahim Abdullahi Zeidy, the current Chief Executive and pioneer of the institute, spoke with The East African Business Times’ Brian Yatich on the institutes’ top agenda and future prospects. Excerpt:
CMI has remained true to advancing professional excellence. Kindly share a little history and the mandate of the institute
CMI was established in 2011 in order to undertake all technical activities which are needed to enhance the COMESA Monetary Integration Programme. The charter of the institute was endorsed by the 27th meeting of the Council of Ministers which was held in Lusaka, Zambia, on 7th December 2009.
The charter was signed by 13 COMESA member countries including Burundi, Congo (DR), Egypt, Kenya, Djibouti, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The key mandates of the institute are to promote macroeconomic policy coordination and financial integration in member countries and to advance research and capacity building activities on monetary and financial integration issues.
We ensure macroeconomic and financial stability in the region which are key for enhancing COMESA integration agenda through promotion of investment and trade competitiveness.
What are some of the milestones recorded by the Institution over the years?
We have been able to build capacity in macroeconomic management and assessment of financial stability in collaboration with IMF and member countries. We have also published over 50 articles on country specific studies on macroeconomic management in member countries.
CMI held over 50 capacity building workshops and trainings, and prepared users’ guides after holding the trainings.
All these no doubt assisted COMESA members’ Central banks in chanting the way forward towards attaining macroeconomic and financial stability. This also helps them to fulfil the COMESA Monetary Integration Agenda.
What are some of the strategies that you have put in place to ensure CMI achieve its objectives?
The key strategy is to ensure the skills acquired from CMI training and research activities contribute to policy making in member countries.
This strategy is implemented by making all CMI capacity building trainings are hands on and practical. It also produces User’s guides following all capacity building trainings. It as well publishes policy oriented studies..
The objectives of the user’s guides and books published by CMI are to be used as a reference materials and also to serve as a training material by member Central Banks at a national level.
What are the challenges CMI has experienced and how have you been mitigating them?
Some of the challenges include the wide divergence in financial system development among member countries and external and domestic shocks which complicate macroeconomic management in member countries.
To address this, we have continued to embrace capacity building and research activities in order to ensure that member countries have capacity to address the challenges and also to enhance implementation of the COMESA Monetary Integration Programme.
Financial literacy is a key factor for inclusive growth and sustainable development in the continent. What would be your personal message to young Africans that would encourage them to take ownership of this?
Financial literacy has the potential to play a significant role in pro-poor financial system development by helping the youth to understand the options being offered by financial institutions through teaching them basic skills related to budgeting, saving, borrowing, protecting them against risks and encouraging them to invest.
It empowers the youth to use scarce resources more effectively and enable them to make more informed decisions. It also enables them to use technology to better manage their money.
Financial literacy also enhances efforts in deepening financial inclusion and combating poverty, weeding out bad practices and ensuring financial institutions are appropriately priced and offer transparent services.
As integral component of COMESA, what prospects do you have for CMI in the next five years?
I expect CMI to contribute to the COMESA Regional Integration Agenda by making the region a zone of macroeconomic and financial stability; the financial systems in all member countries are fully diversified and are stable.
High level of macroeconomic and financial integration in the region will contribute to trade integration, competitiveness of member countries, commodity diversification, increased productivity, high level of investment and infrastructure development.
Where do you draw your motivation and inspiration while running the institution?
I draw my motivation and inspiration by the effectiveness of CMI research and capacity building activities. This no doubt significantly contributes to macroeconomic policy convergence among member countries, which is key to achieving COMESA Monetary Integration Agenda.
I would like to underscore that the success of COMESA, FTA, Customs Union, COMESA common investment area, the drive towards industrialization and the plan to establish the common market and Economic community require greater Monetary Integration.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how your education background shaped who you are today?
I’ve been the Chief Executive Officer for CMI from 2013 up to now. I’m married with 5 children. I got my BSc degree in Statistics and Economics in Addis Ababa University.
I got my M.phil degree in monetary Economics from Glasgow University. I worked in the National Bank of Ethiopia, the country’s Central Bank, for 22 years. I was Director of Research from 1994-1999. I then moved to COMESA Secretariat, where I worked as Senior Monetary Economist from 1999-2011; then as a coordinator in CMI from 2011-2012. I was Director of the COMESA monetary Institute from 2013 up to now.
I have skills in econometric modelling and forecasting, macro and micro stress testing of financial system, fiscal stress testing, management of international reserves and design of monetary and exchange rate policies.
I’m also experienced in Macroeconomic management and financial sector issues, analysis of financial markets, financial programming and policy, compilation of macroeconomic data as well as Public Finance Management.
You said you like reading books, which book do you currently read?
Most of the time I read books which are related to my profession and particularly related to economic growth, macroeconomic management, financial sector development and regional integration.
When you are not in the office, what do you do?
I like walking for about 45 minutes a day, watching TV and outing with family and friends for excursion.