Africa’s fintech ecosystem key in driving digital revolution- MTN CEO

Mr Stephen Blewett, Chief Executive Officer of MTN Ghana, says the African fintech ecosystem is key in driving the digital revolution across the African continent.

‘Africa’s fintech ecosystem is the engine that will drive its digital revolution and economic development in the coming years,’ he said.

Mr Blewett was speaking at the ongoing 3i Africa Summit on the theme ‘Unleashing Africa’s FinTech and Digital Economic Potential.’

It provided an opportunity to foster collaboration among diverse stakeholders to drive innovation across Africa.

The 3i Africa Summit is a collaborative initiative by the Bank of Ghana, the Development Bank of Ghana, and the Monetary Authority of Singapore to showcase and stimulate Africa’s fintech and digital potential.

It is a groundbreaking global event focused on transforming Africa’s economic landscape through sustainable, long-term capital allocation

He said Fintech could stimulate local economies and drive progress across the continent in several ways.

This included finan
cial inclusion, innovation and entrepreneurship, job creation, cross-border transactions and payments, digital identity and security, agriculture and rural development, government services, investment, and funding, as well as digital and financial literacy.

He said the success of services like MTN’s Mobile Money and Vodafone and Safaricom’s M-Pesa provided sufficient evidence of the ability of fintech to revolutionise business on the continent and provide millions of people with access to essential financial services.

The CEO said despite these gains, Africa lags far behind the world in mobile adoption and innovation.

‘Constraints such as low infrastructure coverage, affordability of data and smartphones, and lack of digital skills training continue to inhibit access to the Internet among vulnerable groups, especially women,’ he added.

He called on stakeholders to make every effort to remove these bottlenecks and close the usage gap by improving data coverage, lowering the cost of data and data-enabled de
vices, especially in rural and low-income areas, and enhancing digital literacy.

Mr Blewett urged business leaders and policymakers to contribute to ensuring that the right environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices remain key in their commercial activities.

‘We must not lose sight of the impact that our actions have on our environment and society and strive towards creating shared value in business outcomes. We must progressively reduce our carbon footprints by investing in renewable energy and other energy-efficient tools and technologies that lead to efficiency,’ he said.

He said the continent must take up the challenge of placing ESG at the heart of commercial activities and support the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The CEO said that through collaboration, stakeholders can shape an Africa that not only thrives in the digital age but also serves as a shining example of inclusive and sustainable development.

Other speakers from MTN are Shaibu Haruna, CEO of Mobile Mo
ney Limited Ghana, and Eli Hini, CEO of MoMo PSB, Nigeria. The rest are Cedric Nguessan, MTN Group Finco Payments and E-Commerce; Angela Mensah-Poku, Chief Enterprise Business Officer, MTN Ghana; and Dario Bianchi, Chief Digital Officer, MTN.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Nyakrom Rural Bank PLC makes giant strides, profit in 2023

The Nyakrom Rural Bank PLC, the pioneer rural bank, has made a profit before tax of GHC2.143 million in 2023 compared with GHC1.03 0 million in 2022, representing a 108 per cent growth.

The Board of Directors and the Management of the bank are working assiduously to improve on the performance in the coming year, despite economic challenges facing the country.

Nana Ambrose Linson Arthur, Chairman of the Board of Directors, announced this at the 43rd Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the shareholders of the bank at Agona Nyakrom in the Central region.

The Chairman said the total deposit from customers grew to GHC91. 33 million in 2023 from GHC67.64 million in 2022, a 35 percent increase.

He said the bank’s assets increased from GHC71.4 million in 2022 to GHC100.19 million in 2023, representing 40 percent growth over last year’s performance.

” Our total investments increased from GHC18. 62 million in 2022 to GHC21.09 million in 2023, representing 13 percent growth over the period ” the Board Chairman announ

Nana Linson Arthur said the net loans and advances granted to customers grew from GHC40.44 million in 2022 to GHC59.86 million in 2023, a 48 percent growth.

According to Nana Linson Arthur, the growth in loans was as a result of expansion in the bank’s Women in Development (WID) Cocoa and fish programmes which was started three years ago.

He said the bank expanded cocoa farmers loan to 146 groups of about 2,500 farmers in the catchment area, adding that the bank disbursed a total of GHC 10.2 million to maintain their cocoa farms.

Nana Linson Arthur said the bank’s microfinance product had seen significant improvement and by the end of 2023, the bank had about 943 groups of about 8,900 customers, saying the bank was able to disburse more than GHC 50 million and hoped to increase it to GHC70 million in 2024.

Mr Kaedebi Donkor, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nyakrom Rural Bank PLC, underscored the bank’s significant progress in its financial operations and called on market women and business executiv
es in the catchment area to take advantage to access numerous facilities to grow their businesses.

He said the bank had rolled out many products and services to facilitate growth, which included fixed deposit, Susu Account, Susu loans, commercial loans, Quick susu loans and others.

Okofo Katakyi Nyakoh Eku X, Omanhene of Nyakrom Traditional Area, commended the board of Directors and Management of the bank for their hard work and dedicated services that had yielded positive results.

He called on the shareholders of the bank to increase their shares to enable the bank to increase its share capital in order to become one of the best rural banks in the country.

Mr Kweku Kum, the president of the Central Regional chapter of the Association of Rural Banks, praised the board of directors and the management of the bank for their innovative operations that had contributed meaningfully to the significant growth of the financial position of the bank.

He added his voice to calls on shareholders to buy more shares to
help improve and increase share capital of the bank to further enhance its operations.

Source: Ghana News Agency

DBG, Proxtera to make available US$100m digital loans to Ghanaian SMEs

Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) operating in Ghana’s agriculture, manufacturing, Information, Communications and Technology (ICT), and high-value sectors are to benefit from some US$100 million loan through a digital platform.

This is being made possible through a partnership between the Development Bank Ghana (DBG) and Proxtera, a Singaporean fintech company that aims to simplify cross-border trade and uplift SMEs through digital platforms.

Through this venture, DBG would provide beneficiary SMEs loans for growth and expansion, enabled by digital means by Proxtera.

The partnership was formalised by the two entities on the margins of the ongoing 3iAfrica Summit in Accra on Tuesday, May 14.

Mr Duker stated that for SMEs to qualify for the loan, it should be a Ghanaian-owned and working in the country, and its financial plan, deemed bankable.

Engaging the media after the short event, Mr Kwamina Duker, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), DBG, said the Bank had development stemmed from their belief that
a more digitised way of lending has become necessary in this era.

He explained that while the Bank, through wholesale and rural and community is able to check the credit portfolios and other requirements for SMEs to get loans from them, the online platform would make it faster and easier.

‘This platform allows that process to be much quicker, and effective, and as a result of that, the risk premium of the interest rate being applied to SMEs, will over time come down,’ he said.

‘If today, it takes about three to six months to get a loan, with a huge amount of documentation, and we can cut that down to turnaround of literally a real time of 24-hours… then we can appreciate the benefits of digitalisation,’ Mr Duker said.

He stated that because no one bank could bridge the huge financing gap of SMEs, the bank was serving as a catalyst to de-risk the environment for other banks to also support SMEs with affordable loans for their operations, and to create jobs for the Ghanaian youth.

Mr Duker said that the Ba
nk had done so in the rubber sector, making other banks to gain the confidence to provide loans to companies in that sector, and initiated a similar step in the rice sector.

He indicated that in the rice sector, for example, the Bank could reduce the financing bank by some 14 per cent, but by de-risking, producing the right results, showing the yields, it would crowd in the other banks, saying, ‘that’s the role of the development bank.’

Mr Saurav Bhattacharyya, CEO, Proxtera, stated that they would through their technological platform build a credit engine for SMEs to be evaluated quickly for the disbursement of loans.

He stated that Ghana is the fourth country to benefit form their platform, which he expressed confident that would help solve the access of credit challenge of Ghanaian SMEs.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Opportunity International Savings and Loans gets major international data, security payment card certification

Opportunity International Savings and Loans Limited (OISL) has obtained the internationally recognised Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard Certification (PCIDSS).

OISL was presented with an Attestation of Compliance (AoC) by the global certification company, Kyte Consultants, an independent auditor on May 8, 2024, after a thorough audit and compliance validation was performed.

Kyte Consultants Ltd (with its headquarters based in Malta) is accredited by the major card brands, through the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC), as a Qualified Security Assessor Company.

The certification is the latest for the company after it obtained the ISO27001 certification in January this year.

Mr. Benjamin Kusi, the Board Chairman, Cyber and IT Committee, expressed his delight for the milestone, which, he said, was a confirmation of OISL’s commitment to protecting and providing a safe and secure environment for its customers.

Mr. Kwame Owusu-Boateng, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of OI
SL, noted that the certifications followed the Bank of Ghana’s directive on Cyber Security and Electronic Payment channels.

‘This emphasises OISL’s commitment to adopting global best practices and standards in ensuring the integrity of its customer information and a secure banking operating environment,’ he said.

Dr. Francis Takyi, Chief Risk Officer and Director of Cyber Security of OISL, also said that ‘PCI DSS was an information security standard designed to prevent or reduce payment card fraud by increasing security controls around cardholder data’.

He explained that the comprehensive set of security standards was developed by the PCI Security Standard Council to safeguard debit, credit, prepaid and cash card transactions, and to prevent the misuse of cardholder data.

‘Payment security is vital for every organisation that stores, processes or transmits cardholder data.’

Mr. Eric Amoako, the Chief Information Security Officer of OISL, highlighted the benefits of the certifications, which included impr
oving OISL’s information security position, guaranteeing customer assurances on risk mitigation, and enhancing customer experiences.

PCI DSS compliance is required by all card brands. It is the global standard that any organisation of any size must adhere to accept payment cards, and to store, process, and/or transmit cardholder data.

PCI DSS compliance is adherence to the set of policies and procedures developed to protect credit, debit, and cash card transactions and to prevent the misuse of cardholders’ personal information.

Opportunity International Savings and Loans Ltd is one of the leading Financial Institutions in the country and currently has thirty- eight (38) branches in ten (10) out of the sixteen (16) regions of Ghana, serving more than 660,000 clients across the country.

It is a subsidiary of Opportunity International, a global organisation with headquarters in Chicago, USA.

The Institution delivers services and programmes to clients in 30 countries across the globe, serving more than 20 mi
llion customers with Micro Banking, Micro Insurance, Agriculture, Education Finance, and Innovative Non-Financial Services.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Ghana Link adjudged Trade Facilitation Company of the Year

The Ghana Link Network Services Limited, operators of the Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS), has been named the Trade Facilitation Company of the Year at the Seventh Edition of the Ghana-West Africa Business Excellence Awards.

The award recognises the company’s robust implementation of the ICUMS and its impact on the trade ecosystem.

This year’s Ghana-West Africa Business Excellence Awards, endorsed by the Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI), rewarded innovative ideas that have pushed boundaries to bring together business players and recognise the achievements of local and international companies involved in various sectors.

ICUMS connects over 8,000 daily users, including freight forwarders, shippers, and numerous regulatory bodies such as the Ghana Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), streamlining processes that were previously cumbersome and time-consuming.

The ICUMS has been pivotal in enhancing operational efficiencies at Ghana’s ports an
d borders, leading to a significant increase in the country’s revenue and improvements in doing business.

Meanwhile, Dr. Nick Danso Adjei, the Chief Executive Officer and the Executive Chairman of Ghana Link Network Services Limited, was also honoured as Ghana’s ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ for the sixth time.

Dr. Adjei led his company to revolutionise trade facilitation in the region through the implementation of the ICUMS.

He told the media that he was thrilled to receive such recognition, as it highlights hard work and fuels their commitment to continue improving their services.

‘These awards are a testament to the dedication of our staff, who strive to provide the best services at our ports and borders,’ he said.

He indicated that his outfit has received several other awards this year, including the Trade Facilitation Technology Leadership Award, the E-Solution for Trade Excellence Award, and the Excellence in Innovation and Technology Award.

Dr. Danso Adjei stated that it was important that young ent
repreneurs and the youth of Ghana become focused, be diligent, and work hard towards achieving their goals.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Tomato Farmers at Kamgbunli appeal to government for factory

The Tomato Farmers Association at Kamgbunli in the Ellembelle District has appealed to the government to establish a tomato factory in the area.

The Association claimed that tomato had become a major crop in addition to cocoa and rubber of the Kamgbunli community, yet farmers could not reap the fruits of their labour due to the perishable nature of the vegetable.

Mr. Shaibu Issa, Secretary to the Steering Committee of the Tomato Farmers Association when members of the committee took the media round some of the tomato farms at Old Kamgbunli.

He disclosed that a chunk of the tomato fruits usually perished due to lack of ready market.

Mr. Issa said the farmers had been grouped into four and given days to harvest ripe tomato fruits on their farms on specific days in the week.

He said with the establishment of a small factory, the farmer groups could harvest ripe tomato fruits in abundance to feed the factory.

The Secretary said tomato farming had improved the well-being of farmers in the community most of w
hom were predominantly women and told journalists that another major problem facing the farmers was inaccessible and poor roads leading to their farmlands, making it difficult for the farmers to cart their produce from the farm to the market centres.

He appealed to the government and other spirited bodies and investors to come to the aid of the farmers to give tomato farming a major boost.

The Developmental Chief of Kamgbunli, Mr. Ali Nuhu Abeka said, ‘though Agriculture is considered as the mainstay of Ghana’s, many problems in the sector was not making the country actualize gains’.

He said in the Kamgbunli community, tomatoes continue to go waste due to lack of ready market and storage facilities among other challenges.

Mr. Nuhu Abeka said some of the farmers were even contemplating quitting farming even though that is all they have and reiterated the need for farmers in the area to get a mini factory to process their products to make Agriculture more lucrative ‘since successive governments have abandon
ed over 80 acres of inland valley rice field.’

He said with a population of 5,000, about 700 of the population were actively engaged in organic tomato farming.

A tomato farmer, Madam Mariama Osman, said their forebearers went into rice farming but could not change their fortunes.

‘We have decided to venture into tomato farming as it is lucrative enough and can cater for our children in school,’ he added.

She said the nematodes were seriously affecting tomato production.

Mr. Dauda Musah, the Assembly Member of Kamgbunli, said he, together with the committee, would fashion out strategies to seek external support.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Private sector participation in energy distribution crucial under IMF programme

The participation of the private sector in Ghana’s energy distribution is critical to the reforms outlined in the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) ongoing US$3 billion loan-support programme.

The development, which is part of the government’s efforts to improve energy efficiency and reduce debt, is outlined in the document guiding the implementation of the country’s three-year Extended Credit Facility (ECF).

Over the last month, there have been intermittent power outages, prompting calls for the government to involve the private sector in resolving the issues to ensure that Ghanaians get reliable and affordable electricity.

The Ghana News Agency went over the proposal for the IMF loan-support programme and found that the government planned to enter a concession arrangement in the energy distribution sector.

There are no timelines for the move, but pages 15 and 67 of the programme documents note the government’s plan to develop a strategy with specific goals for reducing distribution losses and improvin
g revenues.

‘[It] will entail estimating investment requirements for upgrading equipment and systems, finalising the modalities of private sector participation in the distribution sector,’ the programme document indicated.

A comparable initiative in recent times has been the agreement with Power Distribution Services (PDS), which was terminated in 2019 due to PDS’s failure to achieve certain pre-conditions.

This led to the country missing some US$190 million in investment under the second tranche of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) power compact for the long-term sustainability of related infrastructure and financial recovery in the energy sector.

At the time, the government stated that it was committed to private sector participation in the operations of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) in keeping with due process and fidelity.

Ms Alice Albright, Chief Executive Officer, MMC, stated on Thursday, May 9, 2024, that while they are open to working in Ghana again, there are no immediate plans
to do so.

Nana Amoasi VII, Executive Director, Institute for Energy Security (IES), has endorsed private sector participation through a concession agreement in the energy distribution sector.

Speaking with the Ghana News Agency about the situation, he explained that since the intermittent power outages started, there had been no observable improvement in power generation.

That, he stated, could prolong the situation unless the government ensures an adequate and consistent supply of fuel to power-producing facilities, necessitating private sector participation.

‘This approach can bring in expertise, investment, and efficiency improvements that are often needed to address infrastructure challenges and improve service delivery in the power sector,’ he said.

He said lessons from the PDS deal meant that the government must ensure that ‘the concession agreement is well-designed, transparent, and aligned with best practices to avoid the pitfalls experienced in the past deal.’

Source: Ghana News Agency

Fidelity Bank celebrates mothers with bonding activities at major markets

In a heartwarming gesture to celebrate Mothers, Fidelity Bank, Ghana’s largest privately-owned bank, has visited female entrepreneurs, particularly, self-employed individuals, and micro-enterprises at some major markets in the Greater Accra and Ashanti regions.

The markets are Kaneshie, Tudu, Okaishie, Kantamanto in Greater Accra and Kejetia in Kumasi.

The purpose was to celebrate mothers and foster stronger customer relationships, a press release issued to the Ghana News Agency on Monday, said.

It was also aimed at appreciating their loyalty, strengthening customer engagement, and empowering women-led businesses.

The selected customers were treated to exciting packages as a token of appreciation for their continued loyalty to Fidelity Bank.

Nana Esi Idun-Arkhurst, Divisional Director, Retail and Business Banking, Fidelity Bank, who led the team, expressed her gratitude to the women for choosing Fidelity Bank as their financial partner.

‘We are incredibly grateful for your trust and confidence in us,’ s
he said.

‘Your business is not only important to us, but it is also vital to the growth of our nation’s economy.

‘You, the amazing women entrepreneurs, and self-employed individuals in our markets, are the backbone of many families and communities. We recognise the hard work and dedication you put into your businesses, and we are honored to support you in any way we can.’

As mothers, she said, they were being celebrated by the Bank for their critical roles in nurturing future generations and shaping the society.

‘We commend you for your strength, resilience, and unwavering love for your families. We hope these gifts are a small token of our appreciation for everything you do,’ she said.

Anna Aidoo, one of the female entrepreneurs who banks with Fidelity Bank at Tudu Market, expressed delight at receiving her gift and hearing Nana Esi Idun-Arkhurst’s words of appreciation.

‘This is such a wonderful surprise. It means a lot to me that Fidelity Bank would take the time to come out and show us how much the
y value our business,’ Ms Aidoo said.

Other customers reiterated Ms Aidoo’s sentiments, expressing their appreciation for Fidelity Bank’s focus on women-owned businesses.

They praised the Bank’s financial products and services designed to meet the specific needs of female entrepreneurs, such as tailored loans and training programmes on financial literacy and business management, the release said.

Meanwhile, Fidelity Bank has rewarded the top three transactors on the Fidelity Mobile App in the ‘Dine with Mom’ promo.

The winners were presented with special Mother’s Day dinner vouchers, which allowed them to treat their mothers or other cherished loved ones to a fabulous meal at one of the premier hotels in Accra.

‘Fidelity Bank’s market visits and ‘Dine with Mom’ promo highlight the recognition of women in business and their commitment to empowering women,’ the release said.

‘By recognising the contributions of female entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals, the Bank underscores their dedication to su
pporting a vital sector of the Ghanaian economy.’

Source: Ghana News Agency

3i Africa Summit starts today with 4000 Finance, Technology and Policy Players

The much-awaited 3i Africa Summit which seeks to generate greater momentum and traction for Africa’s digital finance agenda by causing finance, policy and technology to meet at the crossroads begins Monday at the Accra International Conference Centre for the next three days.

In the face of higher-than-projected registration characterised by a subsequent turnout of over 4,000 participants which is well above the initial target of 2,500, the organisers, the Bank of Ghana (BoG), Development Bank Ghana (DBG) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) through its subsidiary, Elevandi, remain poised to deliver what they promised.

Over the three days, the participants will benefit from a multimodal forum for policy discussions, international intellectual resource alignment, entrepreneurial pursuits and investment networking.

This is expected to foster important conversations and also strategic alliances to nurture the flourishing African digital economy and fintech sector.

Through this coordinated effort the
Summit will support the development of creative solutions made especially to handle Africa’s unique problems and take advantage of its wealth of prospects.

As expected, the 3i Africa Summit is bringing together key players in the financial, investment, policy-regulatory and digital technology domains in Africa. These include three Heads of State, 10 Governors of Central Banks within and outside Africa, including the Bank of Ghana’s Dr. Ernest Addison, the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Dr. Olayemi Michael Cardoso and the National Bank of Rwanda’s Hon. John Rwangombwa.

In addition, there are over 150 Chief Executives and Senior Executives of FinTechs and Financial institutions across the globe, including Serigne Dioum, CEO of MTN Group Fintech, Dr. Patrich Saidu Contech, CEO of Africa Fintech Network, Saurav Bhattacharya, CEO of Proxtera, Conrad Kraft, Strategic Advisor, DigitalEuro Association, and Co-Founder and CFO, Tradelite Solutions, Mariame MacIntosh Robinson, President of Qenta Inc., Sopnendu Mohanty, Chi
ef Fintech Officer at MAS.

Over the three days, the participants will engage in over 15 sessions with speakers and discussants contributing to over 60 topics aimed at finding the pathways that deliver the most traction in the drive to generate momentum and achieve progress in line with the Summit’s theme: ‘Unleashing Africa’s Fintech and Digital economic potential’.

The exciting series of sessions include ‘the Capital meets Policy Dialogue’, ‘Opening; Main Stage’ on Day One with ‘Main Stage – Africa’, ‘Fintech for inclusion forum’, ‘3i Africa Dialogues on Digital Assets’, ‘Founders’ Peak’, ‘the Deal Zone’, ‘Women in Tech Conference’, ‘Agriculture and Fintech Forum’ and ‘Roundtable’ on the second day. The third and final day offers ‘Smart SMEs and Digital Skills Forum’, ‘Digital Public Infrastructure’, ‘ESG Forum’, ‘Financing businesses, Accelerating Trade; Universal Trusted Credentials’ and ‘Main Stage – Global’.

The topics for the three days will engender a dissection of the issues in order to bring to th
e fore solutions, ideas and channels to deliver the much-needed progress on the fintech front.

These include Interoperability of data; Digitalizing intra-Africa Trade, State of Fintech; Africa, Africa’s Digital Economic Policy; Incentives, Infrastructure, Financing and Regulations and Skilling up, Stepping up; Building Africa’s workforce with women and youth at the forefront.

Others are Sheconomics; Building a financial future for women with fintech, Seeding Innovation; The convergence of agriculture and fintech in Africa, Integrating fintech to de-risk agriculture value-chains in Africa and Africa’s Digital Renaissance, among others.

One thing is certain, however, that the 3i Africa Summit is not going to be a talk-shop.

The discussions, views and solutions over the three days will be packaged as recommendations, collaborative deals, progressive policies and projects to enable the unleashing of Africa’s fintech and economic potential.

This will be shared with the rich assemblage of leaders in the financ
e, policy and digital technology space for implementation thanks to the efforts and commitment of the Bank of Ghana, Development Bank Ghana and the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Source: Ghana News Agency