Interswitch Group, Africa’s leading technology-driven company focused on the digitization of payments in Africa, has announced a new strategic partnership with Codebase Technologies (CBT), a leading global open API banking solution provider, to accelerate the digital banking transformation across the African continent.
With a shared vision of helping Africa’s financial institutions and customers make the transition to digital banking, Codebase Technologies’ award-winning Digibanc™ SaaS platform is the perfect complement to Interswitch’s existing payments and digital banking offering; and together, the partnership will help broaden access to financial services for Africans, driving greater financial inclusion across the continent.
Digibanc™ SaaS, hosted by Interswitch, will enable financial institutions in West and East Africa with full front-to-back SaaS capabilities through a rapid and cost effective deployment model, allowing true economies of scale. Working with the Codebase Technologies team will help Interswitch broaden its current digital offering, whilst leveraging Interswitch’s brand recognition to increase the reach and visibility of Digibanc™ SaaS in Africa.
The partnership will also enable banks, fintechs and other corporates take advantage of new, leading technologies, so that they can continue to meet the evolving market and customer demand. In turn, customers will be able to access an extensive range of innovative banking and payment products that meet their existing and future needs.
Interswitch’s Divisional CEO for Digital Infrastructure & Managed Services, Jonah Adams commented, “Africa is at the forefront of digitization, with the fintech market across the continent rapidly evolving. There is also an increasing consumer demand for new, more accessible products and services, and for Interswitch, continuing to innovate and enhance our product propositions is critical. We are excited to partner with Codebase Technologies, bringing with them next-generation technological capabilities and expertise, as we continue our mission to increase access to financial services and drive financial inclusion across Africa.”
Codebase Technologies’ Commercial Director and Africa MD, Paul Nilsen, stated: “We look forward to working with Interswitch Group and launching this new, cutting-edge technology that will redefine user-centric, financially inclusive financial services and help spur innovation, economic growth, and increased access. This partnership will capitalize on Interswitch Group’s in-depth knowledge of the current needs and direction of financial institutions across the Continent, as well as the progress they have made in the banking and financial services space.”
Middle East and Africa Women Entrepreneurs Lead in Digital Presence- Mastercard Study
Despite the gender gap and social challenges, entrepreneurial women across the world and in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) are leading the way in tapping into the power of the digital economy to succeed and grow. In new research by Mastercard, women-owned small and medium enterprises (SMEs) believe there are huge benefits of a cash-free economy to their businesses.
According to the inaugural Mastercard MEA SME Confidence Index, 81% of the region’s women entrepreneurs have a digital presence for their businesses, compared to 68% of their male counterparts.
In terms of a digital footprint of the region’s women entrepreneurs, social media (71%) leads the way, followed by a company website (57%). In the Middle East and North Africa, more women entrepreneurs had a website (71%) than a social media presence (55%).
These findings are aligned with Mastercard’s global commitment to connect 25 million women entrepreneurs to the digital economy by 2025, as part of its goal to build a more sustainable and inclusive world.
“The Mastercard MEA SME Confidence Index revealed that over 80% of women entrepreneurs have digital readiness for their business compared to their male counterparts but yet so few have access to funding for their business growth. Globally, women-owned businesses are well represented in the entrepreneurship space, yet it is estimated* that they only access between 2 and 10% of commercial bank finance. This reflects the huge potential SME women entrepreneurs have when we accelerate their access to financial and digital tools which will enable greater gender parity in the business ecosystem,” saidAmnah Ajmal, Executive Vice President, Market Development, Middle East and Africa, Mastercard.
According to the Mastercard survey, confidence levels around digital transactions are high with 30% of women entrepreneurs in MEA experiencing no challenges in accepting more payments digitally versus cash payments – especially mobile payments (62%), online payments (57%) and card payments (45%).
In Southern Africa this confidence is further elevated with two-thirds (67%) seeing no challenges to accepting more payments digitally.
Growing confidence levels in digital as a business imperative, is tied to a deeper understanding and wider recognition among SMEs of the advantages that result from a growing digital economy. When asked about the biggest benefits of a cash-free economy to their businesses, women entrepreneurs highlighted the increased efficiency of transactions across multiple channels (60%) and the ease of not handling or processing cash (60%).
They also appreciated having a more convenient way of paying suppliers and employees (59%), faster access to revenues (55%), less potential for fraud (53%) and access to new business growth opportunities (50%).
NCC and NESG Mull Collaboration to Boost Telecoms Impact on Nigeria’s Economy
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) are considering possible areas of increasing collaboration to enhance the impact and contribution of telecommunications sector on Nigeria’s socio-economic development.
This was the crux of deliberations during a recent courtesy visit by a delegation of the National Assembly Business Environment Round Table (NASSBER), a policy unit at NESG led by Nnanna Ude and a member of the technical committee of NASSBER, Yemi Keri.
The need for stakeholder collaboration and engagement between the Commission and other stakeholders in order to conduct an impact assessment and gap analysis of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003, which will lead to improvement of the legal instrument and reflect new trends, especially in a post-pandemic world, was the primary focus of the visit.
The two entities also considered synergy in the area of Research and Development (R&D); while NESG has expressed its desire to have the Commission feature prominently in the forthcoming Nigeria Economic Summit (NES), an annual summit organised by the NESG, scheduled to hold in October this year.
While receiving the delegation on behalf the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, the Director, Public Affairs, NCC, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, stated that the meeting was a welcome development, as it aligns with the telecom regulator’s strategic partnership and collaboration objectives.
Adinde stated that the NCA 2003 is a robust regulatory instrument, which has given the NCC the mandate to regulate the telecom sector effectively, as seen in the contribution to the overall economic development of the country.
He stated further that, by virtue of Section 70 of the NCA 2003, the Commission has developed various regulations and issued guidelines that have helped in addressing critical issues pertaining to its regulatory activities.
Other senior management staff of the Commission, including the Director, Licensing & Authorisation, Muhammed Babajika; Director, Technical Standards & Network Integrity, Bako Wakil and representatives of the departments of Legal & Regulatory Services; Policy Competition & Economic Analysis; and Financial Services of the Commission, took turns to talk about the activities of the Commission in implementing its regulatory mandate for the benefit of the country.
Mr Babajika spoke on the licensing regime of the Commission and its impact on innovation in the economy, while Engr Wakil spoke about NCC’s regulatory efforts and collaborations with various stakeholders, such as the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) towards addressing challenges to quality of service (QoS) in telecom industry.
The impact of these challenges such as multiple taxation and regulations, fibre cuts, vandalism, high cost of Right of Way (RoW), theft of telecoms facilities and the need for the passage of the Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) Bill into law.
Speaking earlier on behalf of the Chief Executive Officer of NESG, Laoye Jaiyeola; Ude acknowledged the critical role NCC is playing in the provision of essential digital support for the Nigerian economy. He noted that, in 20 years of telecoms liberalisation, the Commission has been contributing significantly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Ude explained that the visit was part of the efforts of the NESG to strengthen collaboration with key institutions of government such as the NCC. He extolled the role of the Commission in driving telecommunications sector growth through efficient and result-oriented regulations, noting that the impact of the regulations are evident in industry performance indicators which have shown upward trajectory over the recent years.
“The NCC is key to the digital transformation agenda of the government and we can see the footprints of the readiness of the country on that journey, in terms of the level of broadband penetration, internet subscription, teledensity and other critical indicators,” he said.
Meanwhile, Adinde stated that the Commission was excited by the prospects of partnering with NESG and NASSBER, noting that such partnership will further enhance telecoms contribution to Nigeria’s socio-economic growth. He added that “all the issues discussed will be articulated in a memorandum, which will be submitted to Management for consideration.”
Nigerian Government Trains Kano State Executives Council Members on e-Governance, Digital Transformation
In its fulfillment to enable the development of National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, under the leadership of Honourable Minister, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, has kick-started a pioneer programme to train Members of Kano Executive Council on e-Governance and Digital Transformation.
The programme was initiated to give special training to the top government officials in the state on modern technology adoption, in order to improve their performances at all levels while delivering services to the general public.
The opening ceremony of the 2-day event, which commenced today, 2nd August, 2021, was attended by Kano State Governor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, his Deputy, Dr Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Usman Alhaji, Commissioners, and other members of the Executive Council of the state.
While making his address, Dr Ganduje thanked the Federal Government, particularly the ministry for bringing various initiatives, including training of over 1000 youths on digital skills and other supports provided in the state.
The governor commended Dr Pantami for matching words with action, adding that the e-governance training was as a result of his visit to the Communications and Digital Economy Complex in Abuja where he initiated talks on the possible collaboration and partnership with the Ministry to foster ICT development in Kano state.
He also hinted his government’s commitment towards the realization of ICT policy in the state. According to him, ICT has been a critical element to governance, and his administration is making all efforts to ensure that the state taps on the immense benefit of e-Governace and digital technologies by simplifying government operations as well as limiting government spending.
He said, “It is imperative we apply the new system being used anywhere in the world, because the old system of government would not move the state forward.”
The governor assured that he would continue to come up with ways to streamline government operations and reduce the cost of running his administration.
On his part, Dr Pantami, while delivering his keynote address, noted that the training is the first of its kind in Nigeria at the state level, and there cannot be a better place to start than Kano State, according to him, Kano State is the most populous state in Nigeria and the commercial nerve centre of Northern Nigeria.
He said, historically, the people of Kano have always been known to be hardworking and industrious. “They were among the first people to establish major industries and conglomerates in Nigeria, trading in food and drinks, textile and footwear, tanning, ceramics, and furniture,” he added.
Dr Pantami stated that the commencement of the programme makes Kano State Executive Council Members the first beneficiaries, which at the end, Kano will be well positioned to develop a strong digital economy, and have a transformational impact on the state and the nation at large.
He said that in light of global trends in the delivery of government services which is increasingly being characterized by the digitization of processes, the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy developed the Nigerian e-Government Master Plan (Ne-GMP) with the vision “to create a world class, open and digitized government that connects with people to drive efficiency in public administration, responsiveness of civil services and transparency in governance leading to improvement of the quality of life of Nigerians”.
“This is in line with the Ministry’s mandate to Utilize ICT to drive transparency in governance and improve the quality and cost effectiveness of public service delivery in Nigeria. The Plan was developed with specific strategies that will improve the quality of citizen’s lives by enhancing national competitiveness, facilitating market economy, promoting participatory democracy, and improving transparency in the public sector.
“These strategies include the expansion of the number of public sector personnel trained on e-Government and the publicizing of e-Government initiatives at the Federal and State Level. Various Capacity Building Programs have therefore been developed to aid the attainment of this goal,” he said.
Dr Pantami stated that the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) was developed and launched in 2019 to reposition the Nigerian Economy in order to take advantage of the many opportunities that digital technologies provide. “This is in line with the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari to diversify the economy of Nigeria away from the dependence on the oil and gas sector, he said.
“As you may know, the NDEPS is anchored on eight (pillars, one of which is the Digital Literacy and Skills Pillar which provides policy backing for massive training of Nigerians from all works of life in order to enable them obtain digital literacy and other digital skills. An objective of the NDEPS is to support training and Capacity Building among public sector employees in the development and use of digital tools and applications to improve the delivery of government services.
“Furthermore, the Service Infrastructure Pillar provides support for Government Digital Services and the provision of robust digital platforms to drive the Digital Economy. This pillar supports the provision of a online platforms for government to interact with citizens and investors. It supports the deployment of government digital services and a paperless system. A key objective of the Service Infrastructure Pillar is the implementation of the e-Government Master Plan,” he added.
Dr Pantami also seized the opportunity to express his sincere appreciation to His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, for providing the vision and leadership as well as his unwavering support, saying that “we could not have been able to achieve what the Ministry and its Parastatals achieved without Mr President’s continued support and we are most appreciative.”
Earlier in his opening remark, the Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE, said that the training programme is a milestone to the Kano State digital economy journey.
He emphasized that a lot can be achieved together, especially in e-governance and digital transformation which has five milestone; firstly, is about moving government services online for users to conveniently access government services as well as cost reduction, while the second one is to have open data for the state to engage its citizens, getting more information and data economy; and the third is using digital technology to inform decision easily by the data you have.
The DG added that, digital governance, which is fourth on the list, is beyond enhancing existing processes, he said it is about using technology as a source of inspiration to come up with new way of delivering services, using technology to come up with innovation in the way you do your business and unlock opportunities for the citizens.
He said the fifth one is to make the government smart by using emerging technology to predict what is going to happen, what the citizens are going to think and how to shape and equip the citizens’ mindset within the state.
“The programme is about how to design digital economy, position Kano State Government to key in to the Federal Government digital economy initiative, and this can be done through aligning three things: people, processes, and the technology. And this training is going to expose you, build your capacity to make governance easier,” he added.
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