Bahamas And Botswana-Unlikely Bankfellows Forge Blueprint For Currency Collaboration.

Photo: Central Bank of Bahamas. This fast foot restaurant accepts payments with Bahamian sand dollars electronic currency.

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During his Remarks at the Bank of Botswana, in Gaborone, on his recent trip to Africa, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Philip Davis stated that the two nations had an unprecedented opportunity to collaborate in the field of banking.

“Today, I invite you to consider a strategic vision that encapsulates this ambition: a comprehensive Blueprint for Collaboration that highlights the inherent strengths of The Bahamas as a leader in the banking industry and sets a course for transformative cooperation between our regions,” he said, on March 19, 2024.

He added: “This Blueprint for Collaboration encompasses key initiatives designed to unite our banking systems, enhance financial inclusivity, and catalyze economic growth across Africa and the Caribbean.

“This strategic plan is anchored in our shared desire for prosperity and our commitment to overcoming the challenges of distance and disparate regulatory environments.”

Prime Minister Davis pointed out that establishing a Joint Financial Task Force could be the cornerstone of that blueprint. That collaborative body will harness the expertise of banking and finance leaders, policymakers, and stakeholders from both regions, he added.

“Tasked with identifying and dismantling barriers to banking integration, this task force symbolizes our collective will to forge a unified path forward,” Prime Minister Davis stated.

“We can also harmonize our Regulatory Frameworks to address a critical hurdle in our journey,” he added.  “By aligning our anti-money laundering (AML) standards, counter-financing of terrorism (CFT) policies, and digital currency regulations, we create a seamless environment conducive to cross-regional banking operations.

“With its robust regulatory landscape exemplified by the DARE Act, the Bahamas is a pioneer in this endeavour, guiding our efforts towards regulatory excellence and stability.”

Prime Minister noted that, additionally, the promotion of Financial Inclusion and Digital Banking leveraged the power of technology to erase boundaries and open doors.

“Inspired by The Bahamas’ pioneering launch of the Sand Dollar, the world’s first central bank digital currency, this facet of the blueprint can envision a future where digital banking platforms extend financial services to every corner of our regions, ensuring that no citizen is left behind,” he said.

“Facilitating Trade and Investment through streamlined banking procedures and dedicated financial instruments can bolster economic exchanges between Africa and the Caribbean,” Prime Minister Davis noted.  “By focusing on sectors of mutual interest like tourism, agriculture, renewable energy, and technology, we can unlock new avenues for growth and collaboration.”

Prime Minister Davis pointed out that, key to that blueprint was developing human capital, which underscored the belief that “our greatest asset is our people”.

“Joint educational initiatives and training programs will equip banking professionals with cutting-edge skills in fintech, cybersecurity, and regulatory compliance, ensuring our financial sector is robust and secure but also innovative and adaptive,” he said.

Prime Minister Davis added:  “Creating a Bilateral Payment System or exploring the development of a shared digital currency represents a bold step towards financial sovereignty and integration. Such an initiative will facilitate smoother trade and investment, reduce our reliance on external currencies, and strengthen our economic bonds.”

He stated that The Bahamas stood ready to leverage its leadership in banking and finance as a catalyst for “this grand vision”.

Prime Minister Davis said: “Our successes with the Sand Dollar and the DARE Act are not just national achievements but proof of what is possible when innovation meets determination. As I invite you to consider this Blueprint for Collaboration, let us see it as a challenge to ourselves — to push the boundaries, to innovate, and to build a shared economic future that reflects our common values and aspirations.”

Project Sand Dollar is the initiative embarked upon by Central Bank of The Bahamas to issue its own digital version of the Bahamian dollar (B$) as well as implement the appropriate digital payments system infrastructure (such as payment cards and apps) to sufficiently underpin the operation of a digital currency ecosystem.

“Together, Africa and the Caribbean can embark on this transformative journey driven by unity, innovation, and mutual respect,” Davis continued.  “Let this blueprint be our guide as we strive to unlock the full potential of our regions, forging a path towards prosperity that will be remembered for generations to come.”

Prime Minister Davis said that they were well-positioned to embark on that journey, especially with the “welcomed” presence of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), which was set to host a major meeting in the upcoming summer in The Bahamas.

That event, he noted, marked “a pivotal moment in our collaborative efforts, catalyzing the initiatives we envision today.”

He said:  “In conclusion, as we stand on the brink of this transformative partnership, a question looms large before us—a question that beckons us to look beyond the horizon, to see past the vast expanses of ocean that lie between our shores. Will we allow the separation of water to get in our way, or will we see these waters not as barriers but as bridges waiting to be crossed?”

Prime Minister Davis pointed out that the blueprint he had laid out that day was more than a plan.

“It is a testament to our shared resolve, a declaration that we will no longer be defined by the distances that divide us but by the dreams that unite us,” he stated.  “With its pioneering spirit and strides in banking and digital innovation, The Bahamas stands as a symbol to all of us. Our journey together — Africa and the Caribbean — supported by the visions we share and the actions we are committed to, heralds the dawn of a new era.”

Prime Minister Davis stated that an era where the financial inclusivity fostered by innovations like the Sand Dollar and the robust regulatory frameworks exemplified by the DARE Act become “the standard across our waters — an era where our joint task forces and harmonized policies pave the way for a future where trade, investment, and mutual growth flow as freely as the waters that connect us”.

“So, as we look to the horizon, let us choose to see not a barrier but a vast, uncharted ocean of potential. Let us decide, here and now, that the waters which separate our lands will not impede our progress but will act as the very medium through which we unite our dreams and ambitions,” he said.

Prime Minister Davis added:  “The question remains: will we allow the separation of water to get in our way? Or will we embark together on this bold journey, proving that our spirits are stronger than the oceans, our resolve deeper than the deepest sea, and our potential boundless as the sky above?

“The choice is ours. Let us choose to bridge the waters, to unite our dreams, and to craft a future where Africa and the Caribbean thrive together, in prosperity and partnership. This is our moment. Let us seize it with both hands, for the sake of our present and for the countless generations to come.”

Source: Bahamas GIS.


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