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Interview: AFF Director Munyi Nthigah on digital financial inclusion

Munyi Nthigah, director of the Africa Fintech Festival (AFF) 2024, spoke to Connecting Africa Associate Editor Matshepo Sehloho at the Africa eGovernance Conference (AfreGov) in Kigali, Rwanda, about the importance of financial inclusion on the African continent.

Nthigah said a lot of strides had been made in ensuring that financial digital inclusion is at the forefront of governments on the continent.

"Especially in building the core infrastructure that supports mobile communications. Think about it – right now, Africa is mobile first. There has been high penetration of mobile phones, connectivity then allows people to access mobile phones," he explained.

However, with the proliferation of mobile phones and mobile wallets, people talk about inclusion from a perspective of payments, but less than 15% of payments in Africa are digital.

"So, there is a big chunk of people that still do not benefit from digital financial services. Even those that are included, other than making payments, can they access things like credit?" he asked.

He added that even though a lot has been done, there is still a long way to go.

How can digital lenders be ethical?

To crack down on abuse of personal private information, unethical debt collection services and high interest rates provided for credit facilities offered through digital platforms via mobile phones and mobile money accounts, the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) introduced new regulations for digital lenders.

"There will always be bad apples, therefore, regulation is very good, but I think the bulk of the innovators are out there trying to solve the digital finance problem, so we need to leverage on data," he said.

"So let us digitize how we transact, how we exchange value in Africa, and once you do that, you are able to access all the data and once you access the data, you are able to build financial products," he explained.

Ketha Africa

Apart from being the Africa Fintech Festival 2024's festival director, Nthigah is the CEO and founder of Ketha Africa, an agrifin platform. Founded in 2022, it seeks to automate agriculture ecosystems by connecting the value chain actors and providing a robust network to ensure the security of transactions.

He said that agriculture is one of the most contributing factors toward Africa's GDP.

"However, only 5% of value exchange in the agriculture sector is going through digital platforms. That tells us that most of the small-holder farmers are left out in terms of financial access," he explained.

He added that even with about 42 banks in Kenya, only about 10 million Kenyans are banked. But there are about 30 million mobile wallets. That disparity is huge. Therefore, he said the idea behind Ketha was to start by digitizing the whole agritech value chain.

Matshepo Sehloho, Associate Editor, Connecting Africa

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