Tromp AG
Improving financial infrastructure
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Managing the implementation of financial infrastructure in Sub Saharan Africa
The implementation of Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) systems and related applications in Sub Saharan Africa started with the introduction of the South African RTGS system, developed and implemented by the South African Reserve Bank. This was followed by numerous countries in Sub Saharan Africa implementing similar infrastructures.

Philip Tromp and his colleagues have been responsible for the implementation of numerous RTGS systems in the Sub Saharan African region. The South African experience and that of the five countries that implemented the Perago RTGS system in the region, are highlighted below.

The development and implementation of the South African RTGS system (SAMOS)

Following on the successful payment system strategy development initiative completed in the second half of 1995, a project was launched to establish the infrastructure envisioned in the strategy. By all accounts it was an ambitious project with stringent deadlines, presenting many management challenges. The management of the project was structured as follows:
  • The development and implementation of the South African RTGS system was managed by the South African Reserve Bank's internal IT department, with Persetel, a major South African IT company at the time (now known as Business Connection), acting as technology partner in the project.
  • A Steering Committee, involving executives from the bank and the technical partner, performed the project governance function. The project managers, responsible for the day-to-day project execution, from the bank and Persetel were also involved in the Steering Committee.
  • The project was structured to involve the 25 participant banks on a number of levels in order to utilise the knowledge and skills in the market and also to facilitate the preparation of the banks' connectivity and back-office applications.
  • The project was completed, within 27 months and the system went live, involving all the participant banks, on the date originally planned.

The results achieved were, inter alia, the following:
  • A state-of-the-art RTGS system was conceptualised, developed and implemented. The system contained ground-breaking features and was the first implementation of a so-called hybrid settlement system for liquidity optimisation.
  • The system was implemented on a robust, resilient and secure technological architecture.
  • SWIFT was implemented as the primary network carrier for financial transactions.
  • An interbank network was created to enable all banks to participate. Through the interbank network a real-time monitor of the bank's position in the central bank was also provided to all banks to enable them to manage their settlement positions within the system.

The implementation of RTGS and related applications in other Sub Saharan states

Following the entry of Perago into the market, five Sub Saharan countries opted to implement the Perago RTGS system. The management of the implementation of these systems was undertaken by Perago.

The implementations covered, inter alia:
  • Aligning business policies, practices and procedures of the central bank
  • Implementing the IT infrastructure and environment required by the system
  • Implementing the application software and peripheral applications
  • Systems integration, including connectivity with SWIFT infrastructure and/or a private interbank network
  • Training of central bank and participant bank staff
  • User acceptance testing
  • Conducting pilot projects between the central bank and participants
  • Preparing for cutover to production
  • Providing post-implementation support

The governance of the project was structured to involve Perago executives in the steering of the project and to coordinate the activities on all levels between the central bank and the solution provider.

The results achieved were, inter alia, the following:
  • Originally planned go-live dates achieved in all five countries
  • The RTGS systems implemented were founded on sound business practices resulting in a large percentage of interbank transactions being effected in real-time during the day
  • The central banks, acting in their capacity as settlement service providers, achieved a high level of self sufficiency in the management and administration of the system
  • The open platform architectures introduced proved to be reliable and cost effective

The utilisation of SWIFT as network infrastructure and the use of the SWIFT FIN Copy topology proved to be an effective solution.
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