The African Development Bank has allocated £100 million in working capital and £300 million in debt financing to boost financial inclusion initiatives across the continent.
The Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI), designed to inspire expansion of digital financial transactions in Africa, is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the Government of Luxembourg, as initial contributors.
Africa saw double-digit growth in mobile phone ownership in the first half of this decade, triggering a surge in innovative digital tools and services across the continent. Yet, the benefits are not shared equally. It is estimated that only 43% of adults across Africa have a banking account.
ADFI’s opening project, which serves as a pilot for the facility, is an $11.3 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the Bank and the Central Bank of West African States. The grant has been issued to help spur the creation of an interoperable digital payment system that will allow consumers to send and receive money between mobile wallets, and from these wallets to other digital and bank accounts.
African Development Bank president Akinwunmi Adesina says that the ultimate goal is to ensure that at least 320 million more Africans, of which nearly 60% are women, have access to digital financial services.
“We believe that with the right investments in innovation and smart digital growth, the obstacles to achieving financial inclusion and greater economic opportunity for all will be overcome,” he says.