Dubai, UAE: With its forward-thinking vision, capital and strong expertise, Dubai is serving as a strategic partner in driving Africa’s digital transformation, according to a panel of fintech experts who spoke on Wednesday at the 4th Global Business Forum on Africa in Dubai.
Their comments came during a high-level session entitled, “Africa-Dubai Dialogue: The Future of Money”, which revealed that African countries have realised the value of fintech and blockchain, and are now aiming to create an enabling environment for these emerging industries and technologies.
The session saw the participation of Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer of DIFC, UAE; Louis Antoine Muhire, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Mergims, Rwanda; and Tayo Oviosu, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Paga, Nigeria, who spoke about the impact of new technologies on Africa’s finance industry, as well as Dubai’s progress with regards to fostering an ecosystem that drives innovation its fast-growing fintech sector.
“When you look at the future of money, innovation is going to be the core. In the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia region, the penetration of [online] financial services is at about 30 per cent. That is a huge upside highlighting inclusive growth and inclusive finance. There is no doubt that everything is going to go digital, and we have global banks, organisations and government collaborating to make it happen,” said Amiri.
According to Oviosu, the UAE has the potential to be one of the first countries in the world to go completely digital in the near-future. He noted that the shift toward digitalisation is also happening in Africa, but pointed out that more education is needed to expand access to digital services on the continent.
Muhire reiterated that the future of money will be digital but shared his view that “people will determine if you go digitally or not.” He stressed the importance of simplifying the process for making online transactions, adding that financial players in Africa cannot afford to wait until computer literacy reaches the same levels as Western countries.
Underlining the fact that more governments in Africa are now receptive of innovative technologies in the financial sector, the panellists shared the view that embracing blockchain technology and fintech services will help reduce the cost of capital, which in turn will drive economic growth on the continent.
Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the 4th Global Business Forum on Africa was held November 1 and 2, 2017 at Dubai’s Madinat Jumeirah. The event was organised by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The Global Business Forum series, launched by Dubai Chamber in 2013, focuses on Africa, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Latin America. To date, the series has hosted 10 heads of state, 74 ministers and dignitaries, and 5,400 executives, as well as a host of influential decision makers from 65 countries around the world.