2017-10-18

Digital financial inclusion in sub-Saharan Africa

“Central banks are mandated to promote and protect financial stability, but they need to balance this mandate with the need to foster financial inclusion,” said AFI Head of Strategy and Member Relations, Mr. Kennedy Komba during the roundtable, Digital Financial Inclusion in sub-Saharan Africa, in Berlin earlier this year.

The roundtable was co-hosted by the European Investment Bank (EIB), Afrika-Verein der deutschen Wirtschaft and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), on 6 July 2017, in conjunction with Africa Day 2017. EIB’s report about the roundtable proceedings is available here.

When discussing challenges and opportunities in financial inclusion, Mr. Komba shared policy options that make financial services more accessible to the world’s unbanked, and empower policymakers to increase access to quality financial services for the poorest populations.

He emphasized the importance of clearly articulating the policy objectives, of promoting proportionality and a risk-based approach to regulation, and of data in decision-making, product design and policy reforms.

“Transparency is important; the public needs to be able to know what the Central Bank is doing for financial inclusion,” he said adding that this ensures certainty and consistency, a prerequisite for private sector confidence and investment.

Mr. Komba emphasized that it is crucial to foster collaboration at the international level including peer learning about what works best to build trust amongst private actors, and amongst regulators who may not want to allow certain products on the assumption that inherent risks may affect financial stability. Discussing interoperability and how to connect the various market players to allow for seamless transactions, Mr. Komba expressed that the key is to consider the value proposition for both the private and the public sectors.

Five other panelists took part in this session, moderated by Ms. Barbara Marchitto, Head of Country and Financial Sector Analysis at the EIB Economics Department. The panelists included Mr. Volker Hey (Senior Policy Officer, BMZ) who explained the role of the Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI) and the G20 on the eve of the 2017 G20 Hamburg meeting;  David Ashiagbor (Coordinator, Making Finance Work for Africa) who highlighted the broad trends, opportunities and challenges regarding digital financial inclusion in sub-Saharan African countries; Thierry Artaud, (Executive Chairman, M-BIRR) shared his company’s experience of promoting digital financial inclusion in Ethiopia, while Louise Holden (Head of Public Private Partnerships, MasterCard) discussed the role of public private partnerships in promoting digital financial inclusion in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

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Learn about Africa Day (#DigitalAfrica) - Empowering Millions: Africa’s Rising Digital Economy.

Find out more about the roundtable on Digital Financial Inclusion in sub-Saharan Africa.

Discover more about the work of the European Investment Bank EIB.

About the European Investment Bank

The European Investment Bank is the public bank of the European Union, owned by the 28 Member States. Operating in more than 130 countries, and in Africa since 1963, the EU’s bank is helping the Union meet its objectives globally, including delivering the Sustainable Development Goals. Last year the EIB invested more than 8bn EUR, outside the EU, in projects supporting the Sustainable Development Goals: creating good jobs and fighting poverty, supporting young people, women and rural populations, preventing disease through access to clean water, supporting green energy and building vital transport links. Around 25% of these projects were in Africa. In the last five years, the EIB has invested over EUR 10bn in over 200 projects throughout the African continent.

About Afrika-Verein der deutschen Wirtschaft

The German–African Business Association (Afrika-Verein der deutschen Wirtschaft) is the foreign trade association representing German companies and institutions with an interest in Africa. Through its well-established networks, the Association promotes exchange between German and African representatives from both business and politics. In doing so, the Association advocates a new conception of Africa in Germany: Africa as a continent of opportunity. The Association provides information about countries and markets and represents the interests of its more than 600 members nationally and internationally with respect to political, economic and media issues. The Association positions itself as a competent contact point and contributes actively through political dialogue to setting the stage for the successful involvement of German business in Africa.

About BMZ

The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) defines the framework for German development policy. The purpose of Germany's development policy is to reduce poverty; make globalization fair; secure peace, liberty, democracy and human rights; and ensure protection of the environment and of natural resources. The BMZ works closely together with international institutions and other donors. Civil society players, faith-based organizations, foundations and private sector players are also important partners.