Inclusive, low-cost instant payments systems are today’s frontier for financial inclusion on the African continent. Recent experience shows that the ability to send and receive low-value payments at any time, free of charge or at very low cost, has great value in itself and also serves as the first step on the ladder and a gateway to other digital financial services.
AfricaNenda is a newly founded independent, African-led organisation created to accelerate the growth of instant and inclusive payment systems that will benefit all Africans, including the poorest and currently financially excluded. ‘Nenda’ means ‘go!’ or ‘go faster!’ in Swahili, and we believe that instant and inclusive payment systems (IIPS) can play a pivotal role in creating universal access to financial services for many financially excluded adults and are critical to achieving universal financial inclusion in Africa by 2030.
The Covid-19 pandemic has already provided a unique opportunity to rebuild the financial and payments system to be better than before: more inclusive, fully digitised, and fit for purpose for 21st-century Africa. Covid’s lockdowns and social distancing measures have markedly increased the value of digital payments as a practical solution not only for payments, but to keep communities, trade and commerce, SMEs, and others functioning throughout the pandemic.
To date, more than 50 countries worldwide have built instant payment systems that enable real-time transfers of value, including successful deployments in Ghana and Kenya. Across the continent, an ever-increasing number of instant payment systems are under development. At this crucial moment, it is imperative that these systems get the support needed to succeed, and that they are designed to be inclusive to unleash their full potential.
So who are AfricaNenda? And how will AfricaNenda deliver on its mission to accelerate inclusive instant payment systems?
As an inclusive instant payment systems accelerator for Africa, AfricaNenda was created through broad-based stakeholder consultations with public sector institutions, private sector digital financial service providers, technical assistance partners, and other key stakeholders on the continent who played a critical role in informing the structure and mission of AfricaNenda.
We are an independent actor that mobilises the African payments ecosystem and acts as an open hub for African digital payments knowledge and expertise. AfricaNenda's objective is to support the development of instant digital payments systems at national and regional levels, rather than specific funders, technologies or approaches. AfricaNenda’s partners include Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Financial inclusion is rapidly increasing on the African continent, but still has a long way to go. Our best estimate of the total number of financially excluded adults in Africa (who do not have access to a bank or mobile money account) stood at an estimated ~400 million in 2017, representing ~60% of adults in Africa and a significant decline from ~70% in 2014. As might be expected, groups including women, the poor, and rural residents are less likely to be financially included.
Mobile phones can make a unique contribution to transitioning from informal money management to financial inclusion by leapfrogging legacy banking and payment systems. As Figure 1 shows, many countries with high rates of mobile penetration still have not managed to give their citizens ...
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