Ghana tops access to financial inclusion in Africa

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Ghana has been recognised as the only country in Africa to achieve 100 percent access to financial inclusion on the continent.

The honour was contained in this year’s State of Inclusive Instant Payment in Africa Report put together by AfricaNenda, and launched at the ongoing Mobile World Congress Africa 2022 in Kigali, Rwanda.

This feat was achieved through the successful implementation of the Mobile Money Interoperability (MMI) system, which integrates all payments platforms across banks, fintechs and telcos, allowing every Ghanaian to make and receive instant payments.

Commenting on the monumental achievement, Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia  expressed delight that government’s digitisation agenda, which began in 2017, is touching almost every aspect of national life, and beginning to yield the desired results.

“In fact, because of mobile money interoperability, where fintechs, banks and telcos have essentially payment platforms that enable every Ghanaian to access and receive payments, Ghana was the only country to score 100% on financial inclusion in Africa at the ongoing Mobile World Congress Africa 2022 in Kigali, Rwanda. And it just makes you proud in this context that, yes, we are doing what is actually quite right,” he said.

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“You’ve seen mobile money interoperability; you’ve seen the national ID card; you’ve seen digital addresses, you’ve seen the paperless ports, universal QR code, Ghana pay, and so on. All of this is laying a particular foundation in this country that will allow us to fully participate in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” he added.

Dr. Bawumia added: “It is also comforting to note that even the credit reference agencies are leveraging on these infrastructure, the digital infrastructure that we have put in place, digital addresses, national ID and so on. We are expecting that individual credit scoring by the credit reference agencies will start taking place by the first quarter of next year, which will allow and underpin the development of a real credit system in Ghana which is very, very critical in terms of the development of this country.”

New models

He pointed out that digital technology had changed the way Africa’s financial service industry offers products and services to consumers.

The Vice-President noted that new financial service business models based on digital technologies are enabling inclusive access to financial services across diverse product types for consumers.

“As a government, we realised it was imperative to adopt digital innovation to transform the economy. It is not a venture without opposition, and there are huge costs associated to get to our destination. However, we are unwavering as we are convinced the benefits will outweigh the costs, and these benefits are already beginning to show,” he said.

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According to the Vice-President, the impact is being seen in initiatives, including efficient public service delivery by all Ministries, Departments and Agencies on the Ghana.gov portal, combating corruption by removing the middle man, and also ghost names in many transaction. He also noted that this is bringing more Ghanaians into the formal sector, and driving domestic revenue mobilization as well.

To achieve greater success and faster growth, Vice-President Bawumia called for more collaboration among all players in the fintech ecosystem – banks, fintechs, telecom companies, governments, regulators and consumers – in order to position Africa as a fintech innovation hub.

“A strong regulatory framework is also necessary across the sub region to drive innovation. Central banks need to be ahead of the market, and put in place regulations that are innovation- friendly, bearing in mind all associated risks,” he advocated.

Award

The State of Inclusive Instant Payment in Africa Report examines all instant pay rollouts across the continent to identify the areas of commonality with the view to driving adoption to boost financial inclusion on the continent.

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This year, the report focused on inclusive instant payment systems in 12 African countries, and Ghana was the only country that scored 100 percent on access to financial inclusion.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Interbank Payments and Settlements Systems (GhIPSS), Archie Hesse, was present at the launch of the report in Kigali. He said from a humble beginning of integrating three instant payment platforms into what he called the ‘financial inclusion triangle’, GhIPSS had since improved the services. This has been done by adding other services like Proxy Pay, Internet Gateway Payment, Request to Pay and the Universal QR Code dubbed GHQR, which can be linked to both bank accounts and digital wallets, with affordability as the key driving force.

“GhIPSS, in collaboration with the banks, has also come up with a bank-wide wallet called GhanaPay to ensure that the banks also play a role in the mobile money space with the view to bridging the financial inclusion gap,” he added.

 

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