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Africa’s fintech ecosystem key in driving digital revolution, says MTN CEO

Stephen Blewett said fintech could stimulate local economies and drive progress across the continent in several ways

Stephen Blewett, chief executive officer of MTN Ghana, says the African fintech ecosystem is key in driving the digital revolution across the African continent.

“Africa’s fintech ecosystem is the engine that will drive its digital revolution and economic development in the coming years,” he said.

Blewett was speaking at the ongoing 3i Africa Summit on the theme “Unleashing Africa’s FinTech and Digital Economic Potential.”

It provided an opportunity to foster collaboration among diverse stakeholders to drive innovation across Africa.

The 3i Africa Summit is a collaborative initiative by the Bank of Ghana, the Development Bank of Ghana, and the Monetary Authority of Singapore to showcase and stimulate Africa’s fintech and digital potential.

It is a groundbreaking global event focused on transforming Africa’s economic landscape through sustainable, long-term capital allocation

He said fintech could stimulate local economies and drive progress across the continent in several ways.

This included financial inclusion, innovation and entrepreneurship, job creation, cross-border transactions and payments, digital identity and security, agriculture and rural development, government services, investment, and funding, as well as digital and financial literacy.

He said the success of services like MTN’s Mobile Money and Vodafone and Safaricom’s M-Pesa provided sufficient evidence of the ability of fintech to revolutionise business on the continent and provide millions of people with access to essential financial services.

The CEO said despite these gains, Africa lags far behind the world in mobile adoption and innovation.

“Constraints such as low infrastructure coverage, affordability of data and smartphones, and lack of digital skills training continue to inhibit access to the Internet among vulnerable groups, especially women,” he added.

He called on stakeholders to make every effort to remove these bottlenecks and close the usage gap by improving data coverage, lowering the cost of data and data-enabled devices, especially in rural and low-income areas, and enhancing digital literacy.

Blewett urged business leaders and policymakers to contribute to ensuring that the right environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices remain key in their commercial activities.

“We must not lose sight of the impact that our actions have on our environment and society and strive towards creating shared value in business outcomes. We must progressively reduce our carbon footprints by investing in renewable energy and other energy-efficient tools and technologies that lead to efficiency,” he said.

He said the continent must take up the challenge of placing ESG at the heart of commercial activities and support the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The CEO said that through collaboration, stakeholders can shape an Africa that not only thrives in the digital age but also serves as a shining example of inclusive and sustainable development.

Other speakers from MTN are Shaibu Haruna, CEO of Mobile Money Limited Ghana, and Eli Hini, CEO of MoMo PSB, Nigeria. The rest are Cedric Nguessan, MTN Group Finco Payments and E-Commerce; Angela Mensah-Poku, chief enterprise business officer, MTN Ghana; and Dario Bianchi, chief digital officer, MTN.

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