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Spotlight on African Fintech at UK-Africa Fintech Summit

The UK Department for International Trade takes steps to further explore opportunities in the area of financial technology following its recently concluded virtual conference on African Investment- commemorating the anniversary of the ‘Africa Investment Summit’, held last year in London.

On the 3-4 February 2021, the UK held ‘The UK-Africa Fintech Summit’ – a two-day virtual event focused on financial technology that provided a platform to demonstrate the UK Fintech sector’s industry-leading capabilities, and put a spotlight on the opportunities in Africa.

The summit attracted over 1,000 registrants from across the UK and Africa, and each session explored the diverse ecosystem of finance and technology as panelists- pioneers and experts in their field, discussed measures to support and drive the Fintech revolution in Africa through a range of topics that covered the ‘Emerging African Fintech space to exploring ‘Green finance’.

UK Minister for Investment, Lord Grimstone, also attended the event and in his welcome address to attendees said:

“The financial services sector is a key primary driver of a nation’s economy. When the sector is strong, the economy grows and the country’s population are prosperous. There is a strong correlation between economic development and the depth of their financial and professional services sectors. Our prime minister in his speech at the Africa Investment Conference last month reiterated that Africa is the future and that the UK intends to be the trade and investment partner of choice as Africa marches on to its true potential.”

It was noted that due to its relative large youth population, Africa was well placed to take full advantage of the digital age. In addition, the Fintech industry was now either creating new jobs across several fields, or transforming existing jobs by offering financial solutions to millions of unbanked people in Africa, many less privileged communities can now access services vital to their self-sufficiency and commercial activity.

Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Africa, Emma Wade-Smith OBE, said:

“Through our recent Africa Investment Conference we discussed the economic challenges that the global COVID-19 pandemic has created. Through our Africa FinTech Summit we recognise the role that Fintech will play in supporting the recovery and building more sustainable and inclusive economies.

The UK’s FinTech scene is internationally recognised as a world-leading environment where any business – from established players to start-ups – can thrive and innovate. The UK supports three tech hubs in Africa and a number of programmes and projects such as the

Catalyst Fund, Female Tech Founders, Tech for Growth and the Global Entrepreneur Programme, all of which help to build partnerships and support FinTech innovations in Africa.”

The speaker panel included representatives from all over Africa including Chris Williamson, Chief Executive of M-Pesa for the Vodacom Group; Mrs Dorra Marrakchi, Head of Regulatory Sandbox for Fintech at the Central Bank of Tunisia; Otto Williams, Visa (Africa); Pavle Ljujic, Pannovate (UK); Ms. Maelis Carraro, Managing Director of BFA’s Catalyst Fund amongst others

day 1 wrap up

We thank you wholeheartedly for having joined us for the first day of the UK-Africa Fintech Summit. As you may have seen, we’ve been greeted by our FPS Director for Africa from the DIT, Lami Adekola, that we hope inspired you to spot ideas to achieve recovery for the economy in your respective markets.

Reckoning how the FPS sector is a massive employer in the UK, and the UK tech start-ups are the most valuable in Europe.

Whereas in Africa, there is an enormous a potential for a tech rejuvenation, there are regulatory sandboxes almost everywhere in Africa, as well as fintech hubs. With its youthful population sparkling with its innovation, which is essential to get things going in Fintech.


Then we were joined by HMTC Emma Wade Smith, who recalled that this summit is part of a wider series of AIC, in particular sectors and markets across Africa. She invited you to Explore this sector, and discover the UK offer, while building new partnerships and developing new ideas. 


In the following session, we had a presentation by Chris Williamson from M-Pesa, who shed the light on the fintech space, and more importantly on M-Pesa’s story and how it evolved by playing a vital role in the Fintech Revolution! M-Pesa presented interesting facts and figures on the sector across Africa, and their core value of which benefits African countries and makes remittance more reliable, accessible and highly secure, to enable resilience and confidence when it comes to business creation by women, amongst others.


Then he was Followed by Steven Gray, from the UK Export Finance, who introduced the panel to discuss the role of Fintech in a post-covid economic recovery, how new technology advancements were created as a result of Covid, and how we are Building Back Better, by exploring green finance options and the role of regulators to enable fintech and protect the consumers.


On that panel, we had Dorra Marrakchi, Head of Regulatory Sandbox for Fintech at the Central Bank of Tunisia, Maelis Carraro – Managing Director of BFA’s Catalyst Fund (which stands for Bankable Frontier Associates), Otto Williams from Visa Africa, Pavle Ljujic, founder of Pannovate and Tayo Oviosu founder of Paga.


Amongst the subjects discussed are restrictions around financial services, the pressure on fintech companies with regards to funding availabilities and more. Panellists touched based on the role of regulators with regards to the changes that were anticipated by the pandemic, which urged regulators to move faster in order to deal with the fintech evolution. One of the examples was from Tunisia, as a population of digital consumers who are ready to go digital and use online transactions to fulfil their needs.

More importantly, the regulatory sandbox launched in Tunisia is already actively serving the framework to protect the consumer and ensure their service providers are ready to serve the market.

Amongst the lessons learned for fintech to be successful, is to pay attention to consumer needs, behaviours and expectations, by making it accessible, innovative, intuitive, reliable, and secure. how urgent it is to go Digital, and what makes a brand trustworthy.

Lastly, panellists shared with us their vision on fintech in the next 5 years, Maelis said it was answering consumer needs. Pavle said that finance will be embedded in everyday life. Dorra suggested to Banks to free themselves from constraints and use technologies in a secure way.


Last but not least, we’ve had the showcase of some of the UK companies by the Global Entrepreneurs Programme led by the UK Department for International Trade, who introduced some work for Global Founders, and how the DIT is supporting entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Amongst the companies showcased were Truzo based in the UK and south Africa, Piggyvest from Nigeria, National System from Egypt, Feature Space from the UK, Shamba Records from kenya, SQOIN from Tunisia, Franc from South Africa, Blockbonds which is based in the UK. Clickpesa from Tanzania, Unfrauded from Tunisia, Flutterwave from Nigeria, who all have incredible offers and highly valuable solutions.


We hope you established partnerships with other present companies and that your participation was fruitful.


day 2 wrap up

We thank you once again for having joined us for the second day of the UK-Africa Fintech Summit. The day started with a keynote address by the UK Minister for Investment Lord Grimstone, who is eager to explore areas for increased opportunities.


Lord Grimstone gave an overview of the Covid impact that has been alleviated by top pharmaceutical companies, and shed light on the UK’s support towards Africa, highlighting the UK as the trade and investment partner of choice for Africa.

 More specifically, UK has a global offer on fintech, which helped the UK sustain progress, and he would love to see African entrepreneurs participate in this, concluding his quote by stating that “FinTech is the future, and Africa is the future”

Then we had the presentation by one of the top notch UK companies who specialise in mobile wallet; Bibimoney. 

We had the chance to learn about compelling statistics in Fintech, and the highly useful utility of mobile money, and gave the example of Somalia that is cashless, and how mobile money resolved the safety issue by having cash on the phone. Overall, mobile money is enhancing lives of unbanked individuals, while reducing the costs of remittance.

 This presentation was followed by a panel to discuss Fintech for Good, to highlight the Tech’s Role in improving financial inclusion and penetration across Africa, encouraging the Fintech revolution in Africa, moderated by the Founder and Executive Director of the Cambridge Center for Alternative Finance, Mr Bryan Zheng Zhang, who was joined by esteemed panellists , namely: Tarek Ibrahim, Furaz Rojid,  Michele Chivunga, Mohamed Benkhaled and Steven Marshall.

Then it was followed by exciting videos to resolve crucial problems in the Fintech realm, such as: Social Lender from Nigeria, Crown Agents Bank from the UK, Demars from South Africa, Paymee from Tunisia, S&V from South Africa, Knabu from the UK, Seso from Ghana, Wesettle from Tunisia, HPS From Morocco, Barafiri from Nigeria, Mama Money from South Africa, Mosabi from Africa and finally, Transferlink from the UK.

All those company pitches were concluded by a Q&A, chaired by Honey Ogundeyi, to hear more about their partnership opportunities.

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