African Development Bank puts muscle behind fintech growth
The African Development Bank (AfDB) recently penned a $525 000 grant agreement with Africa Fintech Network (AFN) for the setup of the Africa Fintech Hub, an online portal that will serve as a one-stop shop for all fintech activities in Africa.
The deal will see AfDB’s Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI) provide funding and technical assistance to the Africa Fintech Network to host and manage the African Fintech Hub.
The hub is a digital platform that will enable fintech associations across Africa to pool resources and knowledge, strengthen relationships and partnerships. It will also provide a platform to showcase the work of fintechs on the continent, including those that are female-led or owned.
According to AfDB, the facility will also support projects to enhance the deployment of digital micro-insurance to smallholder farmers in Nigeria, Zambia and Kenya, as well as to build capacity for cyber resilience and help to remove barriers to access to fintech services across the continent.
The transaction comes at a time when Sub-Saharan Africa is viewed as one of the fastest-growing investment zones for fintech companies, according to the GSMA.
An AfDB statement reads: “The African Fintech Hub will be delivered through a strategic partnership between AFN and the Centre for Financial Regulation and Inclusion (Cenfri), which will provide technical support in the development of the Hub, as well as promote research, knowledge creation and other innovative initiatives.”
Lamin Barrow, director general of the African Development Bank’s Nigeria Country Department, underscored the importance of the Bank’s support to the project, saying it would contribute to strengthening the fintech ecosystem in Africa, and boost competitiveness in the digital world.
Barrow added: “At the African Development Bank, we recognise that we have a major role to play in helping to create a robust, efficient and sustainable fintech ecosystem across the continent. We are accelerating the delivery of our ‘High 5’ strategic priorities through our various innovative interventions.
“These have helped improve access to digital infrastructure, including ICT linkages to landlocked countries and broadband internet services. The need to leapfrog barriers and scale up inclusive digital financial solutions to accelerate economic resilience across Africa has become even more urgent.”
Dr Segun Aina, president, Africa Fintech Network, commented: “We are truly excited about this partnership with the African Development Bank, and the possibilities of working in partnership with Cenfri on multiple initiatives with fintech across Africa to further our mission to drive Africa-led fintech solutions, stimulate information exchange, ideation and the support and to promote innovative technologies within the financial services sector across Africa and beyond.”
Sheila Okiro, ADFI coordinator, said the bank, through the partnership of the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility, is pleased to support this project to “strengthen the fintech sector, furthering our work to leverage technology to contribute to closing the financial inclusion gap and creating employment across Africa.”
Currently, ADFI-supported projects are enhancing digital financial infrastructure and regional interoperability through the development of payment systems and infrastructure in Ethiopia and the ECOWAS region.
Other projects are equipping financial sector regulators with innovative technology to strengthen consumer protection in Ghana, Rwanda and Zambia.