Collaborating to transform Africa's payment landscape via inclusion

by Tewodros Besrat, Technical Expert, Digital Payments - 16 May 2023

In the span of just one year, the partnership between AfricaNenda and UNECA has made significant progress in improving Africa’s instant and inclusive payment systems. This partnership was created with the aim of fostering thought leadership on payment systems across the continent while also encouraging policymakers and regulators to adopt favorable policies that align with the goals of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Within a short timeframe, the partnership has made strides toward achieving even more impact.

Launch of first-of-its-kind report on the state of instant and inclusive payments systems in Africa

AfricaNenda and UNECA’s partnership kicked off in 2022 with a flagship report, The State of Instant and Inclusive Payment Systems in Africa (SIIPS 2022 The report sheds light on where the continent stands in the development of such systems and how countries can gradually achieve inclusivity of their national payment systems along a spectrum that defines key parameters for basic, progressed, and mature instant payment systems. The report has been widely received by governments, policymakers, regulators, industry experts, and donors, as an unparalleled data source and thought leadership piece on instant and inclusive payment systems on the continent.

"Digital Transformation is among two seismic shifts in the 21st Century keen to attain Sustainable Development Goals. The partnership between UNECA and AfricaNenda aims to transform African Payment systems by improving their effectiveness to increase financial inclusion leading to economic prosperity while achieving the SDGs and Agenda 2063: The African We Want."Dr. Mactar Seck, Chief of Technology and Innovation Section, UNECA,

Dr. Mactar Seck, Chief of Technology and Innovation Section, UNECA, delivered his keynote speech at the SIIPS report launch on October 2022, in Kigali, Rwanda.

Transforming the Discourse on Instant and Inclusive Payment Systems in Africa

The AfricaNenda and UNECA partnership also extends to organizing, hosting, and participating in global and continental events/forums focused on Africa's digital transformation agenda, with instant and inclusive payment systems as a prominent topic. During the 17th Internet Governance Forum organized by UNECA and hosted in Ethiopia, AfricaNenda presented arguments on the urgency of addressing data justice issues in the continent. AfricaNenda shared insightful recommendations to a high-level panel on how to address some of these challenges, including effective approaches to empowering marginalized groups in defending their digital rights.

IGF 2022 - Day 0 - CR1 - High Level Leaders Session 2 - Floor

At the 55th Session of the ECA Ministers Conference of African Ministers of Finance, held in March, AfricaNenda contributed to a high-level panel on how best to harness “the African Continental Free Trade Area for economic resilience and inclusion.” AfricaNenda CEO Dr. Robert Ochola emphasized the crucial role of instant and inclusive cross-border payments as the foundation of the AfCFTA.

Dr. Robert Ochola, speaking at the high-level panel of the 55th Session of the Africa Conference of Ministers of Finance, Planning and Development on March 2022, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

What to Look Out for in 2023

First, as countries, regional economic communities, and continental bodies across the continent continue to prioritize digitization, the work done through our partnership becomes even more relevant and imperative in the advancing these agendas. In November, we will launch the second edition of the SIIPs report. The report will build upon the data presented in 2022 and provide updates on progress and new developments in the African payment landscape.

Second, the partnership will commission a flagship report on e-commerce in Africa, “The Africa E-Commerce Report.” This report will tackle the challenges that need to be addressed to ensure that the full benefits of digital technologies and e-commerce are realized on the continent. It will outline the relevant building blocks for digital technologies and e-commerce to thrive in the continent, including internet penetration, legal and regulatory frameworks, affordability, accessibility of broadband, digital skills, and trust.

Third, as Ethiopia continues to make digital transformation front and center of its national agenda backed up by several reforms in the financial sector and digital economy, AfricaNenda and UNECA are set to support the country through technical assistance for the development of its National E-Commerce Strategy. The strategy, among other things, will highlight the minimum requirements for effective implementation, including the necessary legal and regulatory framework, digital payments infrastructure, logistics/transport/delivery systems, digital skills, and inclusivity.

With these initiatives and many more to come, AfricaNenda and UNECA remain committed to advancing the digital transformation agenda across Africa. Stay tuned for more exciting updates!

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