International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
Since the 2008 Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP), the financial sector of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) has undergone major changes that have altered its risk profile. Three structural changes have played a key role since the 2008 FSAP: (i) the financial sector has grown significantly; (ii) regional banking groups have become dominant; and (iii) the high concentration of bank portfolios in sovereign exposures, which accounted for an average of 31 percent of banking assets at end-2020, are almost triple the level observed in 2004. These changes have altered the structure of systemic risks and vulnerabilities and raised the need for implementing reforms to strengthen the effectiveness of the macroprudential policy and banking supervision frameworks.
The institutional and legal frameworks for financial stability in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) have seen significant progress since the previous Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) in 2008. 1 The institutional reform of the WAEMU and the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) in 2010 clarified the respective mandates and responsibilities of the latter and the WAEMU Banking Commission (CBU), and it strengthened the CBU’s legal autonomy and enforcement powers. A new banking law adopted in 2010 established an overall framework for the operation and supervision of banking activities, which has been rendered more proactive and risk based with the gradual implementation of the Basel II/III mechanism initiated in 2016. A bank resolution regime was introduced in 2015 and the mandate of the deposit guarantee fund, created in 2014, was expanded to bank resolution funding in 2018. A macroprudential policy framework, including for monitoring systemic financial sector risks, was developed around the BCEAO and the Financial Stability Committee (CSF-UMOA) in 2010. This series of reforms has greatly enhanced the robustness of the financial safety net via its four components: the early intervention mechanism, the bank resolution regime, the deposit insurance system, and the emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) mechanism.
The limited development of markets in the region represents a key risk factor for financial stability. 1 Since the previous Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) in 2008, the bank deposit base has increased from 18 percent to 30 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and the buoyancy of the government securities market has benefited from the interruption of public deficit financing by the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO). Nevertheless, a significant portion of bank funding cannot be considered stable, due to the concentration of deposits held by large corporations. Apart from reserves held with the BCEAO, banks have little in the way of liquid assets, although the secondary market for government securities is beginning to grow for some issuers. Insufficient secondary market liquidity and the prevalence of unsecured intragroup transactions (60 percent of the total) in the interbank market exacerbate the risk and extent of potential losses for banks in the event of liquidity distress.