Photo: EPA African News Agency (ANA)
Photo: EPA African News Agency (ANA)

Kenya’s rising fintech: Africa’s pride

By Neil De Beer Time of article published Jul 3, 2019

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In 1998, almost simultaneously, bombs exploded at US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killing 224 people.

More than 5 000 people were wounded.

Twelve of those killed in Kenya were US citizens and al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the bombings, making this attack the deadliest attack Kenya had ever seen.

But it did not stop there.

In the early hours of April 2, 2015, heavily armed attackers stormed Kenya's Garissa University and shot dead two security guards before aiming fire at students, killing 148 people.

By attacking young, future professionals, the massacre aimed to disrupt the country's socio-economic growth and stability, as well as divide a multi-faith country, analysts say.

Kenya, a multi-cultural and multi-faith country, has had its fair share of man-driven disasters, but has remained positive as it drives a favourable government policy, investment in infrastructure and a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The Vision 2030 of Kenya has enabled the country to achieve astounding results in ICT, as it includes a technological blueprint with the main objective of transforming the country into a global digital player.

Improvements such as the addition of four fibre-optic sea cables between 2009 and 2016 have enhanced the quality of connectivity and reduced costs for consumers and businesses.

The country, with an estimated population of 50 million, has over the years become the global leader in addressing financial inclusion through fintech.

Kenya has made the African continent a leader in mobile banking through landmark innovations such as M-Pesa, the mobile phone-based money transfer, financing and microfinancing service.

M-Pesa is adopted by 19 million customers, 70 percent-plus of Kenya’s adult population, with $1.3 billion (R18.34bn) real time payments monthly (roughly 42 percent of Kenya's gross domestic product), Peer to Peer (76.5 percent), People to Business (12 percent) and bulk payments (11.4 percent).

These transaction platforms opened the door to formal financial services for Kenya's poor.

African nations over the years have come to appreciate the role of fintech and financial inclusion in economic development.

Kenya is special, as it has brought about fintech-positive practical experiences, which have contributed to inclusive economic development, making Kenya the most financially inclusive country in Africa.

Access to M-Pesa has increased per capita consumption levels and lifted 194 000 households, or 2 percent of Kenyan households, out of poverty.

Global development institutions focusing on the development potential of financial technology frequently cite M-Pesa as a major success story in this respect.

Kenya has indeed managed to put Africa on the world map of fintech innovation, and today Kenya stands out with countries like Vietnam as global leaders in financial inclusion through fintech.

It is time for Africa to copy the commitment of Kenya’s ICT policies and regulatory framework that allows growth and development of all agents in the economy, which has a sustainable effect on inequality and facilitates deepening and outreach of financial systems.

On the Neil economic scale, the current price of a litre of petrol is KSh105.5 (R14.35) and the price of a 330ml Coke is KSh50.

Apart from its security challenges, Kenya is a nation of welcoming smiles and progress.

The country has several counties that all share massive and diverse tourism and economic opportunities.

The people of Kenya in their stunning welcoming of Jambo have truly a spirit of wanting to be a nation that will lead the region of Africa.

Kenya's dynamic President Uhuru Kenyatta is a new visionary of African leadership, who will ensure it rises to its name as Africa's Pride.

* The winner of the pen for last week's interesting fact on Ghana is Brian Compton. Send your interesting fact on Ghana to [email protected] and stand a chance to win the “Neil on Africa” engraved Parker pen.

Neil De Beer is the current President of the IFA and advises numerous African states on economic development. or [email protected]


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