Editor’s Note: May 28, 2018

Financial inclusion shouldn’t be a zero-sum game

In March Standard Chartered Bank launched its first African ‘digital-only’ banking service in Côte d’Ivoire. The Financial Times called the move “part of a fightback by banks in Africa,” alluding to the tension that exists between traditional lenders and telcos around the rise of mobile banking.

The latter have led disruption of the sector, in turn making Africa the world’s leading mobile money market. It accounts for half the 247m active global mobile money accounts.

Banks have been caught off guard, with many seeing it as a threat to their bottom line. This has resulted in some regulators cracking down on mobile money services in a bid to protect traditional lenders.

This zero-sum approach comes at the expense of financial inclusion. Two thirds of Africans are estimated to lack formal banking services, and with just five bank branches per 100,000 adults mobile is the only way the gap will be bridged. Yet outside Kenya the sector has struggled to grow.

A more collaborative approach is needed, and is possible. 

Togo-based Ecobank, active in 36 African countries, recently announced a major partnership with Africa’s biggest mobile operator MTN to provide financial services across the continent.

It’s a good example to follow.

From The Continent

Madagascar’s ruling party has said it is open to negotiations with opposition parties to resolve the latest in a series of political crises that have stifled growth and investment in the resource-rich island nation. This comes a day after a court ordered the formation of a coalition government, and ahead of elections in November/December. More: News24

Guinea’s president Alpha Condé has carried out a wide-ranging cabinet reshuffle, with new appointments including the minister of finance and security ministers. This comes amid heightened political tension over speculation that Condé may be planning to modify the constitution to extend his term, ahead of elections in 2020. More: Africanews

The Daily Stat


The amount investors have reportedly lost in a South African cryptocurrency scam. More: Reuters

The Global Perspective

Sierra Leone’s recently elected president Julius Maada Bio will review mining contracts after pointing to an “extreme lack of transparency” in the sector under his predecessor Ernest Bai Koroma. The West African country is rich in diamonds, iron ore, bauxite and other minerals, but has a history of resource mismanagement. More: CGTN

Rival factions in Libya’s ongoing civil war will meet in Paris on Tuesday for talks aimed at paving a way to UN-backed elections this year. Prime minister Fayez al-Sarraj, head of the UN-backed Government of National Accord in Tripoli,  and his eastern rival commander Khalifa Haftar are among those who have been invited. More: Reuters

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