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African Banker Issue 47: Tech, Innovation and why the customer is king

African Banker Issue 47: Tech, Innovation and why the customer is king

Our sister publication African Banker, takes an in-depth look at the state of the banking in west Africa, with an overriding theme of the importance of technology in the sector. Here is a snapshot from Anver Versi, the magazine’s editor.

Although the global economy is still trying to make up its mind whether to stay still, expand or contract, Africa has no such quandaries. The continent has firmly set its sights on moving forward and it is doing so doggedly, shrugging off the effects of the global slowdown by producing and consuming more at home.

In tandem with the general thrust of the economy, the African banking sector is also doing just fine. Profits are up virtually everywhere on the continent. The fundamentals remain robust.

Bank failures, which used to be a regular annual feature, are now few and far between and caused, almost inevitably, by poor risk management. Overall, banking and financial regulators have behaved like strict headmasters and in many cases, have nipped problems in the bud. They have also been moving slowly but surely to regulate the booming fintech segment, trying to ensure they do not strangle this new phenomenon while also preventing it from running out of control.

The cover story of the  African Banker magazine issue 47, ‘Banking in West Africa” sums up the overriding theme of this issue – which is the impact of technology on the industry. Adesola Adeduntan, CEO of FirstBank Nigeria (FBN) and one of the most venerated bankers in Africa, casts a bird’s-eye view on the industry in that region and looks to developments in the future.

He makes two very clear points – one is that banks now have to be much more responsive to their customers, including the small ones who form the base of the pyramid and secondly, the industry now has the technical tools to enable it do so.

Our second major interview in the same section is with Greg Davis, the CFO of the Ecobank Group Davis, who is happy to cycle kilometres a day for a good cause in his spare time, brings us up to date on developments at this African multinational. He tells us that the restructuring of the internal mechanisms of the Group are now more or less complete and a stronger, fitter and more compact institution is rolling out exciting new products for its customers all over middle Africa.

We report on the interesting interaction between traditional banks and the ever expanding fintech segment as both seek accommodation with each other in Nigeria. Ghana has also managed to stem the budding loss of confidence in the system as a result of some robust and swi action from the Central Bank and we round up the section with a discussion on the role of Islamic bonds in Nigeria’s capital markets .

Gearing up for the next phase

With Brexit looming, the UK is looking to deepen its financial sector ties with the continent. A report by the LSE on Africa’s top companies forms the core of our coverage on this expanding relationship. The Lord Mayor of London, under whose purview the City falls, continues on this theme in an op-ed carried in this edition..

Islamic finance, including sector specific bonds, is rapidly becoming a fixture in the African capital market landscape. We take an in-depth look at this development.

As African banking gears up for the next phase, we review the state of the industry in Sub-Saharan Africa and look for pointers to future trends.

We move across the continent to East Africa and interview Paul Muthaura – CEO, Capital Markets Authority of Kenya. He tells us about the country’s ambitious, -year plan to position itself as a major financial hub in the region while also accommodating green financing structures in its fund raising mix.

In our Country Focus section, we fly over the Indian Ocean to Mauritius and talk to K.C. Li Kwong Wing, Chairman of the SBM Group which acquired Kenya’s Chase Bank relatively recently. He sees the bank’s foray into mainland Africa as a bridge between the continent and Asia.

We return to Kenya to discuss the fascinating explosion of digital lending platforms that have been sweeping the nation and which now provide credits and even overdra s over the trusty mobile phones. Kenya is once again leading the world in seeking new frontiers of financial inclusion. We get the views of Nicholas Malaki – Chief Investment Officer, Sanlam Investments East Africa on this development.

We also take a trip south to Zimbabwe where the just released Monetary Policy Statement outlines the government’s latest efforts to rationalise the thorny issue of an acceptable local currency.

We round up this issue with the welcome news for the region’s tech start-ups that the World Business Angels Investment Forum has opened an office in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

This edition is out now and available on subscription here

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Written by Anver Versi

Anver Versi, is the award - winning editor of the London - based pan-African business monthlies, African Business and African Banker, was born in Kenya but has been based in London for the last two decades.

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