By Asmau Ahmad
The African Development Bank (AfDB), said it invested about two billion dollars in 40 innovation and ICT investment projects across the continent since 2012.
Mr Lamin Barrow, Director-General, Nigeria Country Department, said this during the Nigeria Fintech Week on Tuesday in Lagos.
The theme of the exercise is, “Fintechs: Resilience, Innovation and Diversification.”
He listed the projects to include the 170 million dollars financing for the Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises (I-DICE) in Nigeria.
According to him, one major component of the project is the establishment of a venture capital fund(s) to finance start-ups in the digital and creative industries.
“Other examples include the 72 million Euro loan for the Digital Tunisia 2020 National Strategic Plan; the 124 million Euro support for the Central Africa Terrestrial Fibre Optic Backbone project.
“This covers Cameroon, Central African Republic and Republic of Congo; the 96 million Euro financing for Technology Parks in Cabe Verde and Senegal.
“And 25 million dollars support for development of the regional payment system in the West African Monetary Zone,” he said.
According to Barrow, Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI), a partnership between the Bank and partners will support catalytic investments in digital infrastructure, policy and regulatory development.
This, he said, would also support the design of innovative solutions in the public and private sectors.
“In April, I had the honour to sign a grant agreement with Mr Segun Aina, President of the Africa Fintech Network, for 525,000 dollars in support of the ‘Africa Fintech Hub’ through the ADFI.
“Upon completion in 2025, it is envisaged that at least 70 per cent of Africa Fintech Network members will actively use and benefit from this digital One-Stop-Shop online platform for all things fintech in Africa.
“Also, in 2016, we inaugurated the Boost Africa Programme together with the European Investment Bank, to support venture capital fund managers and entrepreneurs to address obstacles faced by start-ups,” he said.
Barrow said working with Smart Africa, the Bank was supporting the “Institutional Support for Digital Payments and e-Commerce Policies for Cross-border Trade (IDECT) project” and harmonising policies for e-payments.
This, he said, had the potential to drive growth of the African e-commerce market and expand intra-Africa trade, taking advantage of opportunities from the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
He said: “The Bank is investing in projects to help African countries close the gender gap, strengthen customer protection and improve cyber resilience of financial institutions, including fintechs.
“We are also partnering with global technology businesses such as Microsoft, Google, MasterCard and the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) to promote financial inclusion and accelerate digital transformation in Africa.”
The director-general acknowledged that while we celebrate progress in the fintech space, some challenges persist.
He said the regulatory framework needed to keep abreast with technological advances while providing space for innovation and disruption.
According to him, cybersecurity also remains a concern, and the digital divide, while shrinking, still exists.
He said that, “Fintech companies must also invest in knowledge and learning to enhance capacity for risk management and regulatory compliance.
“However, these challenges present opportunities to be harnessed through collaboration, inclusivity and education.
“Strengthened partnership between banks and the fintech ecosystem will help drive harmonisation, combining legacy trust with new-age agility.
“As we take fintech solutions to scale, there is a moral imperative to ensure that they cater to the needs of all stakeholders.
“From the bustling streets of Lagos to remote villages in Borno state. Fintech can and should bridge the gap, ensuring no one is left behind in this digital revolution.”
Barrow added that it was also crucial to build a strong talent pool and improve digital literacy.
He said empowering people with knowledge and skills would not just promote fintech, but also pave the way for a brighter, more inclusive African future.
He said: “The Nigeria Fintech Week therefore provides a robust platform for strengthening our partnerships.
“To promote innovation and product diversification while building resilience for scalable and sustainable impact.
“The AfDB is strongly committed to this partnership to accelerate Nigeria’s and Africa’s transition into the digital future.”