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Ugandans And Diaspora: Driving The FinTech Agenda

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Image: theinsider.ug

If Ugandan Fintech was at a dating event, it’d would be the person at the bar that nobody had asked to dance yet. For too long left in the shade of (rather annoyingly) big cousin Kenya and (even more annoyingly) medium cousins Tanzania and Rwanda – things are suddenly starting to look more rosier for the Ugandan fintech scene.

Uganda has been the forgotten sibling of the East African region

Like all developing economies, country GDP trends can only tell part of the story – but benchmarking against similar nations with global data is always useful.

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The economy is growing impressively as the chart (% GDP growth trend) shows. GDP Annual Growth Rate in Uganda averaged around 5.6% percent from 2009 until 2018; much of the recent growth coming from services and finance rather than commodities. This suggests a movement in the right direction.

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However on the flip side, regional comparisons of the Ugandan economy suggest that more could be done to raise the standards of the economy and reduce inequalities. No proud Ugandan will be happy to see that on an East African basis, the relative performance has been behind its cousins. (Source: IMF)

Fintech can help raise Ugandan economic performance

There’s a growing recognition within the region’s emerging fintech scene that it can drive economic growth and widen financial inclusion for all sections of society.

Within sub-Saharan Africa, East Africa continues to lead in terms of adoption and usage rates (of mobile financial services). Whereas overall financial depth remains below other regions, Fintech is emerging as an engine of growth and technological enabler that fosters financial inclusion and economic development. IMF African Dept, Report on Fintech in Sub-Saharan Africa 2019

Thanks to the advance of mobile money, tens of millions of unbanked have become accustomed to using technology to manage their finances. This has been transformational within the region, and across the continent. This wide acceptance of using technology can now be harnessed to widen financial access further.

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As has been identified by the IMF, the low level of financial infrastructure generates demand for payment services, with a relatively large level of access to mobile devices. Fintech can change the financial industry in sub-Saharan Africa by increasing competition and efficiency – not least for SME’s and rural communities who lack the credit and means to make transactions.

Enter FITSPA – seeking to drive the fintech agenda in Uganda

FITSPA (Financial Technology Service Providers’ Association) was formed in Uganda to support and strengthen the fintech ecosystem; driving innovation and investment to the country. The organisation is independent, non-profit, and represents Uganda’s local fintech community and global partners.

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Fintech is driving most of the business sectors in Uganda making them more convenient, accessible, affordable and provides accountability at every stage. Our members create, develop and support solutions that solve the day today challenges of Uganda’s business environment using Technology. Our members are able to serve the unbanked using different channels to financially include everyone and achieve one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development goals that will help alleviate poverty in our economy.

Zianah N. Muddu, Engagement Partner FITSPA & General Secretary Africa FinTech Network

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2019 sets to be a busy year with Ugandan fintech under the spotlight thanks to the African Fintech Festival being held in Kampala in November.

Supported by the Africa Fintech Network, it offers a chance for public and private institutions to mingle with entrepreneurs – Uganda front and centre of the agenda. As Zianah adds;

Hosting the Africa Fintech Festival will be a game changer for Uganda. So often we’ve looked across the region to larger markets for ideas and inspiration. For Ugandan entrepreneurs, this is an opportunity to show thought leadership and ideas that will shape fintech across the continent.

Held under the theme “Building Africa’s Digital Economy with Fintech”, up to 500 delegates from Africa and around the world will converge to consider deliberate and meaningful steps that must be taken to ensure Fintech delivers its promise to open up the financial society. More on the agenda will be published in this Ugandan series of fintech articles.

Ugandan diaspora – this time coming home with $’s to invest

It is estimated that more than 1.5 million Ugandans live in the diaspora and international remittances have been measured at around 5% of total GDP; clearly, they play a significant role in the economy. Remittances by the diaspora used to be focused on consumption and not investment, but that is changing with the rise of middle class Ugandans in the UK, Europe and America. In the UK, there are more than 100 thousand Ugandans, many of whom are now successful entrepreneurs. This diaspora is looking for investment opportunities and fintech offers a new high growth sector.

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British Ugandans are an established economic block with significant funds to invest in the home country – but they expect real economic return. They take an interest in Uganda based on their heart, but invest based on their head. The fundamentals of fintech growth inevitably leads to interest in investing. At this year’s UK-Uganda Conventionthey’ll be seeking these opportunities.

Willy Mutenza Chairman, Uganda Convention-UK

This year’s UK-Uganda Convention is being held for the 9th year running and for the first time will feature fintech as a major focus area. Having created a partnership with FITSPA, the event will have a dedicated agenda to Ugandan fintech; featuring scale-up companies from Uganda and local insight from FITSPA. The event is supported by WorldRemit, one of Uganda’s remittance partners, who will also present their view on growth via partnerships in the country.

 

Author 

Martin Best is the Managing Director of the agency Full Reach.

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Google partner migration group to digitally skill up Nigerian returnees

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The Google-IOM training drew 93 participants, including returning migrants in Benin City and Ikeja. Photo: IOM/Barinedum Agara

Lagos, Nigeria – The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Nigeria has partnered with American tech giant Google to train returning Nigerian migrants in digital skills.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the organisation said the training drew 93 participants, including returning migrants, interested in setting up small-scale businesses, and also offered mentorship and job placement opportunities.

Since December 5, IOM has been partnering with Google Nigeria to conduct IOM’s first digital skills training for returnees and potential migrants in Benin City, Edo State and Ikeja, Lagos State.  

The one-day training consisted of hands-on sessions on how to build participants’ online presence and improve their search campaigns and online job-seeking skills. 

“Today I learned how to register my business online and how to use Google ads. This will help me get more customers and it will save me a lot of money and time,” one of the trainees said. 

Most Nigerian returnees are between the ages of 18 and 35, and many of them return with knowledge, skills and experiences they gained prior to or during their migration experience.  

IOM’s partnership with Google highlights the private sector’s contribution to returnees’ sustainable reintegration in Nigeria, the organisation said.

“This training is aimed at helping participants start a career in digital marketing, encourages digital start-ups, and advancement in the workplace,” said Temitope Saliu, Growth Tribe Africa trainer for Google Digital Skills Programme. 

The Google-IOM training drew 93 participants, including returning migrants in Benin City and Ikeja. Photo: IOM/Barinedum Agara
The Google-IOM training drew 93 participants, including returning migrants in Benin City and Ikeja. Photo: IOM/Barinedum Agara

The initiative complements the traditional business skills training, which equips Nigerian returnees with the knowledge and skills to prepare themselves for the next steps in their reintegration and to kickstart small businesses. 

Business skills training is an opportunity for returning migrants to meet one another and allows returnees to share their experiences and pool together their in-kind assistance, skills, and resources to establish more sustainable businesses, according to the organisation. 

Since 2017, IOM’s reintegration support has contributed to the development of over 44 different types of small-scale businesses in Nigeria.  

Following the training, the participants will have access to the Google Digital Skills for Africa e-learning platform to continue learning. 

Also Read: How this African Diaspora is keeping the tradition of African storytelling alive

“The digital skills training will help improve the participants’ use of digital skills to contribute to their economic growth as entrepreneurs, thereby further filling in critical gaps in the labour market, fitting their businesses within existing supply chains, and invariably contributing to development,” said Alex Cole, IOM Nigeria Programme Support Officer – Migrant Protection and Assistance. 

African News Agency (ANA)

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Rwanda is Building Africa’s Very Own Silicon Valley – Kigali Innovation City (KIC)

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A multi-billion dollar project inspired by America’s Silicon Valley for the production and development of technological advancement is being built in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali.

This is an innovative effort, the first of its kind on the continent. The aim is to build a critical mass of talent, research and innovative ideas that will transform the continent. The government of Rwanda plans to attract both domestic and foreign universities, technology companies, biotech firms, agriculture, healthcare and financial services; infrastructure including commercial and retail real estate.

According to Paula Ingabire, Rwanda’s Minister of ICT and Innovation, the KIC project has set itself the objectives of creating more than 50,000 jobs, generating $150 million in ICT exports per year and attracting more than $300 million in foreign direct investment.

The project started in 2018 and its said to cost $2 Billion US Dollars. I believe this is the kind of initiative the rest of African leaders/governments should emulate instead of promising jobs that no longer exist to the masses as a means to secure more votes.

Times are changing, and so should the approach to solving economic/social ills. The new era being ushered in by Industry 4.0 demands that people be given the right resources/infrastructure, and in so doing, they’ll create their own employment/livelihoods. As mentioned in my new book Disrupt Yourself Or Be Disrupted, “You can do more today with your life having just an internet connection and that’s an opportunity our parents and grandparents never had.”

And so, Rwanda is committed to becoming the gateway to a technologically developed Africa and it is realizing this with a consistent development strategy that is a sight to behold. Rwanda is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and leads the African continent in technological advancement and infrastructural development.

Rwanda is yet again preparing to build a $5 billion US Dollar model green city in Kigali from January 2020. This will also be the first in Africa – to focus on green technologies and innovations for green and climate-resilient urbanisation.

Many African nations complain about the negative impact on their development resulting from the legacy of colonialism which positioned Africa to be perpetually at the mercy of the Western World however Rwanda has chosen the noble and daring act of rewriting the script of her future. Rwanda is consciously positioning herself for the Fourth Industrial Revolution(4IR) and genuinely giving the future generations tools to succeed in an era of exponential technologies.

In the 21 years since the1994 genocide, Rwanda has come a long way. Despite a near-total lack of natural resources, the country continues to rise, making it one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. One key to this turnaround is technology. It seems that President Paul Kagame; also known as the “digital president” is positioning the country for an extraordinary leapfrog in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“We want technology to sort of permeate all the professions, all the jobs,” says Jean PhilbertNsengimana, Rwanda’s Minister of Youth and Information Technology.

It’s really interesting to note that Rwanda has a Minister of Youth and Information Technolgy. This means the country is paying attention to its greatest asset – the youths!

Hopefully, the rest of the continent is watching and learning from Rwanda – a purposeful Government and leadership abreast with what is trending, positioning itself to be a reference point for economic advancement and innovation through cutting edge technology

In my new book, Disrupt Yourself Or Be Disrupted, I mentioned that “Africa’s hopeful transformation lies in viewing entrepreneurship as a viable career path, not only as a last resort for joblessness. As the Fourth Industrial Revolution takes centre stage, Africa needs more entrepreneurs, innovators, start-ups, disruptors, inventors, pioneers and thought leaders and we cannot afford to be reckless about what will transform our continent.”

The time for disruption is now! The Fourth Industrial Revolution is Africa’s greatest opportunity to leapfrog and compete on a global scale.

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution is not about technology; It is about a new era, new ways of thinking and new ways of doing business” ~Nicky Verd

We have a continent to build! We are the heroes we’ve been waiting for. Wakanda is Real!

Get My New Book “Disrupt Yourself Or Be Disrupted” – A book born out of an authentic passion to ignite human potential in an era of Artificial Intelligence(AI). You cannot out-work, out-learn or out-efficient the machines but you can out-human them!

Available on Amazon

Article By: Nicky Verd

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Facebook hosts its first ‘Facebook iD8 Nairobi’ aimed at celebrating the tech ecosystem across Africa

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“Facebook iD8 Nairobi” created a space for developers and startups to showcase and celebrate talent from across the continent, while sharing their developer journey

NAIROBI, Kenya, November 22, 2019- Today, Facebook brought together over 400 developers, startups and businesses from across Sub-Saharan Africa in a first of its kind conference dubbed “Facebook iD8 Nairobi”. As part of its effort to create opportunities for innovation, community building and education throughout the continent, “Facebook iD8 Nairobi” created a space for developers and startups to showcase and celebrate talent from across the continent, while sharing their developer journey.

Highlights from the conference and activities included:

  • A keynote speech from Emeka Afigbo, Facebook’s Global Head of Developer Programmes – highlighted Facebook’s plan in partnership with Andela to train and equip thousands of developers from its Developer Circles across 10 countries in Africa with technical and non-technical skills in 2020. This follows Facebook’s successful three-month training programme with Andela across Nigeria and Kenya in 2019.
  • A career fair – aimed at connecting this year’s top developers from Facebook’s and Andela’s three-month training programme in Nigeria and Kenya with employment opportunities through meet ups with potential employers.
  • The 2019 Facebook SSA Developer Circle Leads Summit, bought together 60 Developer Circle leaders, who represented 45 circles in 17 countries across the continent in a two-day networking event.

Facebook iD8 Nairobi also highlighted the latest insights from Facebook, with new technologies and products for attendees to build and experiment with, and programmes to help them at any stage of their journey. There were hands-on demonstrations and discussions with Facebook product experts who provided guidance and help to unlock challenges developers face in their development process. The conference also provided an opportunity for developers and startups to learn how technology such as AR/VR, Messaging and Open Source can offer tangible solutions for businesses in Africa.



Speaking at the conference Emeka Afigbo, Facebook’s Global Head of Developer Programs said, “We look forward to reconnecting with the ecosystem to share the latest technology , product and program updates. Facebook iD8 is a two-way dialogue where we also have a chance to hear from our developer and startup community’ about their experiences and roadblocks as well as provide an opportunity for members of our community to connect with others who share their challenges and aspirations.”

Also Read: Meet Mariatheresa S. Kadushi, Founder of M-afya, A Mobile App Providing Health Information In Native Languages In Africa

Fatma Ali a Developer Lead for a Facebook Developer Circle in Eldoret stated, “This opportunity has enabled me to connect and get mentorship to build my career while equipping me with leadership skills to work with the developer community. Through my Facebook Developer Circle I have gotten exposure and recognition in the Developer ecosystem. The experience has been enlightening and I am confident that I will have a successful career in technology.”



Sewagodimo Matlapeng a Developer Lead for a Facebook Developer Circle in Cape town concluded, “My experience leading a Developer Circle in Cape town has enabled me to advocate for the inclusion of women in the developer community in Cape town with my circle having the highest female members in Africa. Through Facebook iD8, I gained insights on how we as developers, male and female can seize opportunities and curb challenges in the developer community.”

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