AfricaNenda: Eyeing the Bigger Picture: How Digital Innovation Can Help Leave No One Behind

Posted on Jun 21, 2023 by Sabine Mensah, Deputy CEO, AfricaNenda

The concept of digital public infrastructure (DPI) has gained significant attention globally, emphasizing its role in ensuring inclusivity in the digital economy. During the 2022 International Monetary Fund/ World Bank Spring Meetings, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, described DPI as “interoperable, open, and inclusive systems supported by technology to provide essential public and private services in the public interest.” David Eaves and Jordan Sandman at the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose stress the “need for public institutions to guarantee that DPI is inclusive, foundational, interoperable, and publicly accountable.”[1]

Countries have chosen different pathways towards inclusive DPI. The Digital Impact Alliance highlights[2] various foundational layers of digital public infrastructure, including digital IDs, payments, data exchange, and consent networks. However, these layers are not always implemented simultaneously. Successes have been achieved by taking a staggered approach, focusing on the most necessary foundations[3] within each country's context and overall vision for digital inclusion. For instance, India's DPI includes digital IDs (Aadhaar) and instant payments (India's UPI, or Unified Payments Interface), contributing to the achievement of more than 80 percent financial inclusion in just six years.

In Africa, the development of Instant and Inclusive Payment Systems (IIPS) and the use of open-source software like Mojaloop[4] offer hopes of speeding up the onboarding of more than 350 million financially excluded adults on the continent.

Driving Inclusive Progress: The Impact of Instant and Inclusive Payment Systems

AfricaNenda’s State of Instant and Inclusive Payment Systems (SIIPS) report for 2022 defines IIPS as systems that process retail transactions digitally in near real-time, available for use 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, or as close to that as possible. These systems enable low-value, low-cost push transactions based on open-loop and multilateral interoperability. Licensed payment providers have fair access, and participants have equal opportunities for input. Governance involves the central bank, while end-users have access to a variety of use cases and channels, along with transparent recourse mechanisms.

Ghana's financial inclusion triangle approach is an interesting variation towards an inclusive DPI journey, integrating ...

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