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SWIFT’s African Business Dwarfs Global Growth


The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) has released data showing that its business in Africa has outperformed the total growth of the business globally.

In the year to date, African volumes grew by more than 16 percent, almost doubling SWIFT worldwide’s 10 percent growth, highlighting the vitality of the region.

“Africa is an increasingly important market for SWIFT. Again this year it has outperformed most of our other regions and has proven itself a vital component of our business globally,” said Hugo Smit, SWIFT’s Head of Africa South at the African Regional Conference (ARC) held in Marrakesh, Morocco.

Smit said the organisation recognises that the continent has huge growth potential, “so we are committed to dedicating more resources, services and opportunities to the local financial community.”

He also stressed the value of SWIFT data in the story it tells, noting that it has been independently validated to be closely “correlated to economic activity through the development of the SWIFT Index.”

According to him, when SWIFT traffic volumes rise, it indicates economic growth. The figures revealed at the ARC therefore show strong organic growth across Africa, particularly in Nigeria. This, Smit said also serve as validation of the positive growth trends SWIFT is witnessing in the region.

The organisation, which handles swift codes, a unique identification code for international transfers between banks, said the continent’s growth was particularly marked in the payments markets, where volumes rose by almost 21 percent as against just 8 percent globally.

SWIFT traffic at country level showed that many have experienced a startling pace of growth, citing Nigeria, where payments traffic grew by almost 42 percent in the last year and by a massive 353 percent in the past four years.

The growth figures are the latest data showing a long-term growth trajectory with Africa’s total SWIFT traffic rising by 63 percent over the last four years, compared to the total growth of SWIIFT traffic globally of 36 percent. Payments have been the locomotive of this long-term growth, with a 75 percent rise over four years as against 37 percent globally, but securities also significantly outperformed, with a rise of 52 percent across Africa versus 41 percent globally in the same period.

The organisation noted however that growth in North Africa has not been as strong as the rest of the continent, as the region struggles to recover from the Arab Spring. SWIFT traffic growth for Morocco for the full year 2013 was just 2.7 percent compared to 39.5 percent in 2011.

“It’s clear that North Africa has not yet recovered to its earlier growth levels, but the positive story is that volumes are coming back,” said Sido Bestani, SWIFT’s Head of Middle East & North Africa. (Ventures Africa)

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