“The question from the US perspective is how can we partner with African countries to create and enabling environment for open secure reliable and trusted digital infrastructure the kind of environment that enables innovation and how can we facilitate the US investment that can catalyze African innovation both to Africans and to America.” Ramin Toloui on U.S. investing in Africa’s fintech; in his opening speech at the recently concluded ninth edition of the Africa Fintech Summit that was held at the Walter E. Convention Center in Washington DC.
The annual summit which followed the African Leaders Summit that took place back in December of 2022, held on the sidelines of the 2023 World Bank/IFC Spring meetings. Beginning with a VIP dinner on April 11 at the famed Old Ebbitt Grill; bringing together stakeholders in the fintech industry to explore investment opportunities in Africa provides a platform for participants to build partnerships, mobilize investments, showcase innovations, resolve industry challenges, identify trends, and create policies that will build a thriving Africa.
The summit which saw participation from a diverse range of organizations such as fintech companies, banks, telcos, government agencies, venture capital firms, accelerators, and think tanks continued on the following day with a networking breakfast, opening remarks, and keynote addresses delivered by notable speakers such as Ramin Toloui, the Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, Eloine Barry, Founder and CEO of African Media Agency, and Zekarias Amsalu, Co-Founder of the Africa Fintech Summit.
According to Toloui, the United States is bringing together the US government resources to work in tandem with African countries on key digital issues expanding access building up infrastructure increasing digital literacy and convening the right stakeholders to jumpstart investment. Innovators and CEOs who attended the summit expressed how helpful the AFTS is for their companies as well as young entrepreneurs who are just starting out. “I’ve learned a lot just for the past hour and a half of being here. It’s good to be surrounded by people who are in the same space. I think you learn a lot from them and what they have done before and what they are doing now. The summit is also a good way to meet people to help you get to where you want to go because you can’t do it alone,” said Khadija Ba (MIT student).
McKinsey reports fintech revenue growth in Africa could rise to 8x its current value to reach over $30 billion by 2025. Fintech ecosystems are built on collaboration by uniting fintech stakeholders from around the world to innovate new ideas and invest. The summit also featured insight-driven panel discussions, keynote & fireside chat for innovators, regulators, investors, and enablers to discuss topics affecting Africa and its diaspora.
“I know the struggles and the difficulties of making a successful business and when you’re an African or of African descent it is ten times harder. You just have to be curious, figure out the problem and solve it, find your customers and make sure to find the right people to put on your team to help your dream come true,” said Eunice Ajim, A Founding Partner of Ajim Capital.
Fintech companies Flutterwave, Wendy Nanfo, Director of Kuda, and Cindy Leigh were among the award winners at the summit Annual Excellence in Fintech Awards Ceremony. The ceremony recognizes extraordinary fintech startups and industry stakeholders for their impact, technology, and vision. The winners expressed gratitude and high hopes for a better future.
“I’m very excited and honored, receiving this award is a big deal because it helps us to keep going and motivates us to keep doing what we do because we are reaching out to people that actually need our services,” said Wendy Nanfo, Director of Kuda.
The summit’s New Venture Competition was won by Daba Finance CEO Boum, who is building a unified investment platform for Africa.
Prosper Africa, an initiative of the U.S. government to increase trade and investment between the United States and Africa, announced at the Africa Fintech Summit that it formed a Tech Trade Alliance with the support of USAID and 18 other U.S. government agencies. The Alliance advances the goals of two signature White House initiatives: Prosper Africa, which increases two-way trade and investment between the United States and African countries, and Digital Transformation with Africa (DTA), which strengthens digital access, literacy, and digital enabling environments across the continent. DTA activities range from USAID LED digital literacy programs for marginalized communities to multimillion Dollar financing commitments from the US International development finance corporation.
“Africa’s digital ecosystem offers tremendous potential to spur economic growth, creating jobs and accelerating global development. The Alliance aims to accelerate ecommerce and digital trade in Africa and address legal, regulatory and logistical bottlenecks by leveraging leading U.S. and African companies’ assets, services and expertise” Monde Muyangwa Asst. Administrator USAIDAfrica
The next Africa Fintech Summit will be held in Lusaka, Zambia, from November 15-17. Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs Dilawar Syed encouraged attendees to commit to building a stronger African tech ecosystem by adopting open platforms, collaborating, and investing in talent in his closing remarks.
Written by: Charles Buckley & Karesha Graham
Editor – Omitogun Abolaji
Editorial direction: Adedayo Fashanu