Advancing Financial Inclusion: UN on the Role of Digital Payments in Africa’s Sustainable Development

A comprehensive overview of the initiatives and strategies by the United Nations Better Than Cash Alliance driving financial inclusion and digital transformation in Africa

In an interview with TechAfrica News at Gitex Africa 2024, Jean Pascal Mvondo, Regional Lead for Francophone Africa and the Middle East at the United Nations’ Better Than Cash Alliance, discussed the role of digital payments in advancing sustainable development across the continent. He emphasized how digital payments can significantly contribute to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly in reducing extreme poverty and addressing inequalities.

“The UN Better Than Cash Alliance is a global partnership of the United Nations that brings together governments, international organizations, and private sector companies to focus on how to make digital payments a catalyst for advancing sustainable development goals (SDGs). This includes the reduction of extreme poverty and addressing inequalities, such as the disparity between men and women. In fact, responsible digital payment solutions can contribute to improving 13 out of the 17 SDGs.” 

— Jean Pascal Mvondo, Regional Lead for Francophone Africa and the Middle East, UN Better Than Cash Alliance

Mvondo pointed out Africa’s leadership in digital payments, citing that the continent is a global hub for innovation in this field. He underscored the potential of digital financial services to connect financial inclusion efforts with tangible development outcomes, ensuring widespread benefits across African populations.

Discussing the diversity of regulatory environments across Africa, Mvondo emphasized the importance of policy harmonization facilitated by initiatives like the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

“Since 2021, Africa has been working on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which is the largest free trade area globally by the number of participating countries. Now, Africa is leading in digital payments and also boasts the largest free trade area. This dual progress is critical. Harmonization across different countries is essential and will naturally happen through the implementation of binding protocols under the AfCFTA. This will ensure that every trader can thrive in this market, facilitating seamless trade for a market of 1.4 billion people.”

— Jean Pascal Mvondo, Regional Lead for Francophone Africa and the Middle East, UN Better Than Cash Alliance

Reflecting on GITEX Africa 2024, Mvondo expressed optimism about Africa’s future, noting the event’s substantial growth in participation and partnership agreements signed. He emphasized the importance of ensuring that these partnerships translate into tangible benefits for African communities and contribute to sustainable development goals.

Regarding the importance of collaboration between public and private sectors, Mvondo highlighted the Better Than Cash Alliance’s role in facilitating dialogue and partnerships to overcome barriers in the digital payment ecosystem.

Jean Pascal Mvondo’s insights at GITEX Africa 2024 highlighted the transformative potential of digital payments in advancing financial inclusion and sustainable development across Africa. Through policy harmonization, public-private collaboration, and the strategic implementation of digital financial services, Africa is set to achieve sustainable growth and social equity.

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