Home Opinion Press Releases AfricaNenda promotes access to affordable payments system in Africa

AfricaNenda promotes access to affordable payments system in Africa


The year 2023 saw promising advancements in the availability of inclusive instant payments in Africa through six new or expanding public Instant and Inclusive Payment System (IIPS) initiatives. During the year, AfricaNenda began providing technical assistance for new instant payment system exploratory projects in Guinea, Cabo Verde and South Sudan, in addition to collaborating with Rwanda switch operator to expand use cases and supporting efforts in the CEMAC and SADC regions to enhance the inclusivity and interoperability of their cross-border payment systems. Through these efforts, AfricaNenda is helping expand the reach of safe and affordable financial solutions to everyone on the continent.

Payments are the most popular financial service for account holders in Africa and serve as a key entry point for end-users to adopt other financial services, including savings and credit. Yet, as of 2023, only half of the countries in Africa had a national instant payment system enabling access for all end-users, including underserved customers such as women, youth, and lower-income households. When payment capabilities are part of a country’s digital public infrastructure, more end-users benefit from the increased safety, speed, and convenience of digital transactions.

Dr Robert Ochola, the CEO of AfricaNenda, said, “AfricaNenda is supporting central banks, and digital financial service providers to accelerate expansion of inclusive instant payment systems. When digital transactions are seamless and affordable for everyone, it motivates more end-users to connect to the formal economy, ultimately fulfilling our mission of achieving universal financial inclusion in Africa by 2030. We are proud of the progress we have made in recent years, though more still needs to be done by all players working together as an ecosystem.”

Over the last decade, the number of live instant payment systems in Africa has grown to 29 domestic and three regional systems. Over that same period, the share of adults on the continent with a financial account has also more than doubled from just over 20 per cent in 2011 to about 55 per cent as of 2021, according to the Global Findex. Despite this progress, more than 400 million adults across Africa are unbanked and therefore unable to receive or make digital payments. AfricaNenda’s work aims to change that by expanding access to digital payments, which are shown to provide an on-ramp to other financial services.

Dr Ochola called for investment in a robust network of public and public-private open loop payment systems across the continent to serve as a transaction layer for Africa’s digital public infrastructure, so that everyone can connect to the formal economy.

In addition to its technical project work, AfricaNenda also enables the IPS ecosystem with advocacy and knowledge sharing. The organization launched the second edition of the State of Inclusive Instant Payment Systems (SIIPS) in Africa report in Addis Ababa in November 2023, in collaboration with the United Nations Commission for Africa and the World Bank Group. The report defines the payment landscape and identifies inclusivity gaps.

AfricaNenda also partnered with the African Union Commission (AUC) to enhance collaboration within the payment ecosystem and mobilized USD 1.5 million to support the AUC’s advocacy program for policy harmonization to facilitate cross-border digital payments in Africa.

AfricaNenda also contributed to the development of the African Continental Free Trade Area Digital Trade Protocol.

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