AfricaNenda debuts with focus on improving payment projects

12Oct 2021
The Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
AfricaNenda debuts with focus on improving payment projects

LAST week, leaders from the telecommunication, financial technology, development, and the banking ecosystem regionally and internationally launched AfricaNenda, a new Africa-led organization aimed to accelerate instant and inclusive payment systems (IIPS).

Robert Ochola, CEO of AfricaNenda speaks during the launch in Nairobi last week.

AfricaNenda will address the key bottlenecks around critical pre-project support and institutional capacity building that are currently restricting the scale-up of fundable, instant and inclusive payment system projects. It has started the process of accelerating regional and national IIPS priorities in Africa with the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Rwanda Information Society Authority, the COMESA Business Council and other stakeholders. 

AfricaNenda was born of a desire to meet the needs of the approximately 400 million financially excluded adults on the continent. Comprised of the most vulnerable populations – largely women in rural areas – these adults rely on cash or informal providers to meet their financial needs, a system which can be costly and risky.

In addition to reducing the cost and risk, enabling universal access to payment systems can reduce poverty on the continent.  AfricaNenda believes that instant and inclusive payment systems can play a pivotal role in achieving universal financial inclusion in Africa by 2030.

 “Digital payments are key to providing financial inclusion for the poor. By lowering transaction costs, increasing competition, we will be able to serve poor households and provide an array of services that help create prosperity to an underserved population. Digital payment platforms are a critical tool but advocating for the poor is our mission,” said Robert Ochola, CEO of AfricaNenda during the launch in Nairobi.

AfricaNenda’s leadership brings together experts in regional digital payments networks and regional digital infrastructure development. The organization is led by veteran financial services leaders, including Safaricom and Afreximbank veteran, Dr Robert Ochola, United Nations Capital Development Fund’s global digital infrastructure lead, Sabine Mensah, and the former head of GSMA in sub-Saharan Africa, Akinwale Goodluck.

With Ochola as CEO, backed by Mensah and Goodluck as Deputy CEOs, the trio will provide technical assistance, capacity building and tools and training tailored to African organizations, payment experts to expand the rollout of instant and inclusive payment systems across the continent. It will also facilitate knowledge-sharing and network-building within the inclusive finance ecosystem.

Prior to joining AfricaNenda, Ochola pioneered the development of a new Pan-African Payments and Settlement Systems (PAPSS) for driving cross-border trade. Mensah led the development of inclusive digital economies to accelerate financial inclusion across West and Central Africa while Goodluck provided leadership for the regulatory objectives of the MTN Group and spearheaded the fulfilment of GSMA’s goals of promoting the best regulatory and policy practices for the mobile sector respectively.

The launch of AfricaNenda follows a series of high-level forums conducted with prominent experts and leaders to discuss critical challenges, trends and opportunities for digital financial inclusion on the continent. Some key-takeaways from the discussions include creating regulation that fosters innovation to enable cross-border and interoperability, and advocating for the education of regulators and policymakers to help build their capacity to move towards an enabling policy environment.

Award-winning journalist and CNBC news anchor Ms. Fifi Peters moderated the convening, which featured keynote addresses by Marday Venkatasamy, Chairman of COMESA Business Council, and Maureen Mbaka, Chief Administrative Secretary of the Ministry of ICT Kenya.  Remarks by Sachen Gudka, 2nd Vice Chairperson of COMESA Business Council, and Innocent Bagamba Muhizi, Chief Executive Officer, Rwanda Information Society Authority ‘RISA,’ were also delivered.

Also on the agenda was a panel discussion of experts who included: Dr Olorunsola Olowofeso, Director General of the West African Monetary Institute; Stefan Nalletamby, Director Financial sector Development Department at African Development Bank; and Angela Wamola, acting Head of Sub-Saharan Africa at GSMA who shared their thoughts on building a pan-African movement towards inclusive payment systems. AfricaNenda is supported with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and program support from the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

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