COMESA Business Council and AfricaNenda show the way forward for regional inclusive payment systems
by Akinwale Goodluck, Deputy CEO, AfricaNenda - 20 September 2021
It has been a busy few weeks since I joined AfricaNenda, the African inclusive payments accelerator, but also a most rewarding time. As I look at the landscape of financial inclusion across the continent and the competing schools of thought on how to bank the unbanked, I marvel at the diversity of opinions and solutions.
At the same time, we are unanimous that financial inclusion is essential, and the commitment of governments and the private sector across Africa is unwavering. The challenge is the how, the who and the when.
An independent, African voice in the payments space
In this landscape, we as AfricaNenda are uniquely positioned to enter the fray as an independent voice.
We have no alignment but to our mission to advocate for and help implement payment systems that are instant, affordable, easy to use and secure, and also interoperable between various banks, mobile money operators and fintechs, guaranteeing ubiquitous reach.
We have no alignment but to our mission to advocate for and help implement payment systems that are instant, affordable, easy to use and secure, and also interoperable between various banks, mobile money operators and fintechs, guaranteeing ubiquitous reach. We recognise that both mobile network coverage, internet access, digital identities, payments infrastructure and many other factors are needed to make inclusive digital economies a reality, and to unlock hitherto stranded capital in Africa. Partnerships between the private and public sectors is crucial, as shown for instance by the rapid expansion of mobile phone ownership in Africa over the past 20 years as a result of private sector investment and ingenuity within a conducive government framework.
AfricaNenda’s first partnership: COMESA Business Council
As the first initiative in our aim to support 150-million Africans to access digital payments, AfricaNenda is proud to announce our partnership with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa Business Council (COMESA Business Council). Our mutual objective is to successfully deploy a regional payments platform for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which will promote financial inclusion for MSMEs in all 19 COMESA countries.
In a first step for the partnership, AfricaNenda co-sponsored the 2nd COMESA Business Council Digital Finance Inclusion Public-Private Dialogue on 27 July 2021, in Lusaka, Zambia.
On behalf of AfricaNenda, I went to Lusaka to help validate the policy areas chosen for harmonisation. Policy harmonisation across COMESA’s 19 countries will underpin the business model for a regional low-cost, instant, secure and interoperable digital payments platform designed to help MSMEs accept digital payments and expand their businesses.
The way forward for inclusive payment systems in Africa
Seeing key stakeholders and representatives from so many African countries united in the singular goal of implementing a regional payment platform, I felt proud and hopeful for the future of the continent. Senior participation from the Bank of Zambia, in particular, showed its strong commitment to financial inclusion, and we hope COMESA’s concerted efforts will serve as a precedent for similar initiatives in other regions in Africa.
We are seeing a financial inclusion explosion in Africa.
We are seeing a financial inclusion explosion in Africa. COMESA is only the first major actor to engage with AfricaNenda for inclusive instant payment systems, and the time is now. From Nigeria to Zambia, Ghana to Kenya, Rwanda to Senegal, Uganda to Egypt and all across Africa, great things are going to happen.
Watch this space – and please reach out to join us in our journey, or to hear more, as we move the needle.