Wednesday, December 05, 2018 06.45AM /
Ottoabasi Absiekong, Proshare WebTV
The African Fintech Festival series the largest gathering of stakeholders in the ecosystem, across the continent hosted its 2018 edition in Lagos, Nigeria.
Focusing on the theme “Fintech-Beyond the Hype” it was an opportunity to explore how the Fintech industry can be deepened further, to encourage innovation and achieve the digitization of financial services in Africa.
In his welcome address the Convener of the Africa Fintech Network, Dr Segun Aina, OFR said the theme was chosen deliberately to pay special attention to the ongoing industry adoption, application and real world user cases and experiences of fintech.
According to him the most significant part of the Festival will be the unveiling of the Africa Fintech Network (AFN) an initiative that was conceived in January 2018.
The AFN is a conglomeration of National Fintech Associations in African countries fostering collaboration to create a "one-market Fintech" platform in Africa.
He informed stakeholders that “The Two day main conference would showcase the numerous indigenous African creativity and innovation aimed at addressing peculiar African challenges, with a global perspective from over 40 speakers, about 800 attendees and exhibitors from over 25 countries across the globe”.
Giving the keynote at the event the CEO of Ecobank Nigeria Mr Patrick Akinwutan on “Digitization” he cited Estonia as an example of a nation, whose digitization agenda is driven by government policy.
He shared that with a population of 1.3million people, over 98% of e-commerce transactions in Estonia are carried out on digital platforms.
According to him “Our challenges in Africa are in fact opportunities to lift millions out of poverty, with efficiency gains”.
Akinwutan harped on the need for collaboration between all stakeholders in the ecosystem and policy makers, for Africa to achieve success in the global fintech industry.
Three areas identified by the Ecobank Nigeria CEO as key for advancing digitization and fintech in Africa, include;
· Government regulation which is vital to encouraging and facilitating digitization and Fintech
· Collaboration between all stakeholders to unleash value
· Investment by stakeholders in awareness and digital usage
In their goodwill messages the SSA to the President on ICT, Mr Lanre Oshiboana and Minister of Business Development for Ghana Dr Ibrahim Awal assured stakeholders of the commitment of their respective governments in encouraging the growth of the Fintech ecosystem in Africa.
The Senior Resident Representative of the International Monetary Fund in Nigeria Dr Amine Mati in his presentation on “Fintech in Sub-Saharan Africa: A game changer” believed the growth of the Fintech industry, could go a long way to boost financial inclusion and drive inclusive economic growth.
Dr Mati emphasized the need for African policy makers to prioritize investments in the hard and soft infrastructure, for the growth of Fintech.
Some of the areas he highlighted include;
· Assessing Infrastructure Gaps
· Fixing of Public Utilities
· Promoting Market Access
· Mobilizing Finance
· Investing in Education and Skills development
· Addressing Power sector issues
In his remarks Mr Ebrima FAAL Senior Country Director, Africa Development Bank representing the President, identified the following as opportunities for the AfDB to play a key role in advancing Fintech in the continent;
· Investment Structure
· Policy and Regulations
· Market Access
The Day 2 event of the AFF also featured the inauguration of the Africa Fintech Council and panel sessions discussing the following topics
· Millenials and Fintech: A tool for stimulating growth and youth empowerment.
· Global Fintech Trends and the Opportunities for Africa
· Financial Inclusion in Nigeria: The Capital Market and Fintech Connection
· The Future of Islamic Fintech
· Regtech and Suptech:The Regulators Roundtable
· How Traditional SMEs are approaching Digitization
· Digitization Transformation, not just a tech conversation