Author Archives: Ashley Smith

#AFTS2020 Goes Virtual

For immediate release:
5th Africa Fintech Summit to be held virtually

WASHINGTON, D.C: The fifth Africa Fintech Summit (AFTS) will be hosted virtually this year  through the Accelevents platform on November 9, 10, and 12.. The Summit   takes place at the backdrop of the global COVID-19 pandemic that has brought  unprecedented need for digital trade & finance and positioned fintech as key to economic  recovery.  

This year?s event will host over 1,000 attendees and 60+ speakers calling in from 10 different time zones across 6 continents. 

In addition to three days of insightful content, throughout the event, attendees have the opportunity to meet with a wide range of stakeholders ? investors, startups, established fintechs, banks, and regulators ? through curated networking sessions, exhibitor/sponsor booths, and lively discussion forums. Attendees can also visit the startup exhibition to view and vote on the best startup demo as part of the Summit?s virtual ?Demo Day.?  

Each day?s content has been organized by themes that the Summit?s organizers uncovered while interviewing the sector?s stakeholders for the soon-to-be-released Africa Fintech: State of the Industry 2020, a 63-page report dedicated to the brightest minds and innovations driving the secotr?s growth. With a focus on the geniuses behind the  innovations leading the industry, panelists include: Co-Founder & CEO of Flutterwave,  Olugbenga Agboola; Founder & CEO of PAGA, Tayo Oviosu; Founder & CEO of Moneta Technologies (Amole),  Yemiru Chanyalew; Ecobank?s Senior Fintech Advisor, Djiba Diallo; Co-Founder & CEO of  TymeGlobal, Coenraad Jonker; Founder and General Partner of Future Africa, Iyin Aboyeji; Co-Founder and President of Ovamba, Viola Llewellyn; and, Chipper Cash Co-Founder & CEO,  Ham Serunjogi.  

The opening day of the Summit will focus on the major regional fintech ecosystems across  the continent, with separate sessions dedicated to West, East, North, Central, and  Southern Africa.  

Day two will focus on fintech-enabled business models, analyzing how fintech is providing  a backbone for innovation in sectors such as e-commerce & trade, healthcare, and  agriculture. There will also be a dedicated session to pay-as-you-go (PayG) business  models that have seen a significant increase in popularity due to their ability to facilitate  access to crucial but often inaccessible services. 

On day three of the event, fintech investors,  decentralized finance experts & thought leaders from the most successful companies have  been invited to discuss best practices for common innovator challenges including market expansion, raising capital, applicability of blockchain, targeting the last mile, and vetting  prospective fintech partners. This day will also feature partner-led workshops targeting Africa?s fintech innovators such as an impact validation and investor data room workshop led by Mercy Corps Ventures, the impact investment arm of Mercy Corps. 

The Summit concludes with the regional semi-final and pitch competition for Startup  World Cup, the winner of which will go on to compete on a Silicon Valley stage for US  $1M.  By registering for the event, up to three banking innovators can secure a $5,000 digital transformation assessment from FinConecta, a  leading global open banking technology provider, free of charge. 

Strategic partners for the event include the U.S. Department of State?s Office of Global  Partnerships, Pegasus Tech Ventures? Startup World Cup, Mercy Corps Ventures,  FinConecta, and APO Media.  

Africa Fintech Summit (AFTS) is the premiere global initiative dedicated to the African  fintech ecosystem. AFTS is traditionally hosted in Washington, D.C. each April during the  Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group and in a different African city each November (most  recently, Lagos and Addis Ababa). This year?s two summits have been merged into one larger three-day virtual event.  This year?s AFTS is organized in partnership between Washington, D.C., strategic advisory group Dedalus Global and Ethiopian-focused advisory firm Ibex Frontier.  

#AFTS2020 tickets are for sale online today! General admission tickets are on sale for  $125 and premium tickets with AI networking capabilities are selling for $225.To learn  more and register, visit our website at  

Media Contact

Andrew W. Barden  

Analyst, Dedalus Global  

Communications Lead, Africa Fintech Summit 


RegTech Summit & Opportunities in Africa

The RegTech Investors Consultative Summit, hosted by Africa investor Group and Dedalus Global, brought together nine global RegTech stakeholders to discuss opportunities for RegTech in the context of the digitization of African economies and the recently adopted African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The Summit, which was Chaired by Hubert Danso, CEO and Chairman Africa investor Group and Chairman, African Union Development Agency (AUDA) Continental Business Network (CBN), builds on the recent Africa investor (Ai) African eTrade Leaders Consultative Summit, held with the Secretary Generals of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Berne Union International Union of Credit & Investment Insurers, AfCFTA, the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Following the eTrade summit, the CBN requested a follow up RegTech Investors Consultative Summit, to generate concrete recommendations from leading global RegTech stakeholders as part of its Policy Recommendations Statement (PRS), to be submitted by the CBN on eTrade and the AfCFTA to African Union Heads of State in light of COVD-19. 

In short, there are significant areas of opportunity for RegTech solutions on the continent, but like any new sector, there will be challenges in the implementation and adoption of such solutions. You can learn more about these by viewing the summit recording here you can also read a brief summary of the opportunities below.

Brief background: Regulatory technology (RegTech), a relatively young category of FinTech, are those technologies that allow for the efficient and effective management of regulatory compliance predominantly for regulated sectors. A primary purpose of implementing RegTech solutions is to mitigate regulatory risk, which was a driving force for their widespread adoption by financial institutions following the global financial crisis in 2008. The category has continued to grow over the past decade as more sectors see the utility of implementing RegTech solutions; so much so, in fact, that there was a 600% increase in global investment during a 5-year period from 2014 to 2019, and a 103% YoY increase in 2019 alone. 

Opportunities for RegTech are beginning to take hold in Africa as governments expedite their digitization strategies (a response to COVID-19) and embark on an ambitious regional trade agenda that seeks to boost intra-Africa trade from 18% to 50% by 2035. To meet this target, the US$3+ trillion African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will need to reduce the barriers of moving goods, capital, and people between countries; challenges that can partially be addressed through the use of RegTech solutions. Despite the salience of these recent events, however,  the sector in Africa is still in its infancy and local RegTech experts and innovators are rare.

During the two hour event on May 28th, panelists identified four major areas of opportunity for RegTech:

  • Building Transactional Trust
  • Digitizing and Standardizing Documentation
  • Cross-Border Trade Efficiency
  • Responsible Data Access and Management 

As more companies move their businesses online and digital payments continue to replace cash transactions, the lack of in-person interaction creates an opening for solutions that help buyers, sellers, and regulators establish transactional trust. Blockchain verification systems are frequently touted as the solution to this problem particularly because they are nearly impossible to falsify and help eliminate ?bad goods? and ?bad actors? from participating in an online marketplace.  

The digitization of documentation is another area of opportunity that will significantly improve efficiencies and regulatory monitoring in several sectors. One of the biggest issues hindering trade efficiencies in Africa, for example, is that it can take companies months and boxes of paperwork to clear their goods from customs. By digitizing and standardizing documentation, both companies and customs authorities would reduce cost and time inefficiencies while also gaining more confidence in an otherwise opaque regulatory process.  That said, the digitization of documentation extends beyond the private sector and will require large amounts of cooperation with regulatory officials.  There can be substantial differences between and within countries in the types of documentation required for different sectors/activities and the means through which they are submitted.   

The example above highlights a much broader opportunity for RegTech solutions to improve the efficiencies of cross-border trade. In addition to the digitization of documentation, RegTech solutions can make it easier for companies to understand and monitor regulations, and regulatory changes, for their respective sectors in each market. Companies that are better able to manage different regulatory environments and monitor changes in real-time, will have greater confidence in their ability to mitigate risk. Effective risk mitigation coupled with the time and cost-savings it provides, ultimately will result in an increase in cross-border trade. The East Africa region has seen some benefits in this space where organizations like TradeMark East Africa have helped reduce customs processing time from a few hours to 15 minutes.  

Lastly, there is the opportunity for RegTech to help entities make more informed decisions by improving access to data. Africa trails the rest of the world in data collection and often, the data that does exist is not accessible. By having access to millions of data inputs, RegTech companies are in a unique position to publish open-source, anonymized datasets that public and private sector entities can leverage to further their respective interests. Companies, for example, may see trends that influence the development of specific products or technologies while governments and regulators may identify priority areas for policy and regulation.  The use of this data is also prudent to the crafting of AI and machine learning programs. 

RegTech holds the keys to providing solutions for many of the inefficiencies experienced by both businesses, consumers, and regulators in Africa and across the globe.  With proper investment, cooperation, and implementation, RegTech can help revolutionize how business and commerce are conducted. 

COVID-19 & Event Updates for 2020 and 2021

On March 11th, the World Health Organization’s announced the classification of coronavirus (COVID-19) as a global pandemic. Out of an abundance of caution and due to limited travel among global fintech stakeholders at this time,  we are postponing this year?s D.C. summit (originally planned for April 17) until October 16-17, 2020, to coincide with the Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group.

Moving forward, our D.C. summits will now always take place during the World Bank?s Annual Meetings each fall and our Africa-based summits will take place every March/April.

Additionally, we are happy to announce the following timeline of AFTS activities and events: 

  • April 16, 2020: Alpha Expo Virtual Bootcamp (apply here
    • Hosts include: IBM, Founder?s Factory Africa, Queen City Fintech, and Village Capital
  • April 17, 2020:  Release of the first AFTS Africa Fintech Report
  • September 24, 2020: AFTS Policy Roundtable
    • Location: New York City, New York, USA
    • Coinciding event: UN General Assembly
  • October 16-17, 2020: 5th Africa Fintech Summit 
    • Location: Washington, D.C., USA 
    • Coinciding event: Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group 
  • November 2020: AFTS ? MENA Roundtable Event 
    • Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
    • Coinciding event: World Expo 2020
  • March 22-23, 2021: 6th Africa Fintech Summit 
    • Location: Cairo, Egypt
  • October 14, 2021: 7th Africa Fintech Summit
    • Location: Marrakech, Morocco 
    • Coinciding event: Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group 

If you are interested in partnering for any of the above events please contact

For additional information, contact

Thank you, 


Fintech Summit Sheds Light on Ethiopia Market Opportunity

December 2019

On November 21, 2019 over 400 fintechs, regulators, investors, and financial service executives from across 30 countries and 4 continents convened at the Sheraton Addis in Ethiopia for the 4th Africa Fintech Summit (AFTS). This is a significant milestone in Ethiopia as the country seeks to liberalize its telecommunications sector, improve the ease of making financial transactions, and transition to a digital economy. AFTS featured a wide range of fintech stakeholders, including Ethiopia?s Minister of Innovation of Technology, H.E. Dr.-Ing, Getahun Mekuria, who laid out his plan for ?coming out of the woods of protectionism? and how Africa as a whole is committing ?a trillion dollar mistake by not harnessing technology.?. The Vice Governor for the National Bank of Ethiopia, Eyob Gebre Eyesus, further emphasized the relevance of AFTS by indicating that ?the role of fintechs is now to awaken the sleeping giant, that is, Ethiopia.? 

The diversity of companies and countries represented at AFTS Addis reflects the rising interest of global fintechs, banks, and investors in Ethiopia,  Africa?s second most populous nation and fastest growing economy. Ethiopian organizations led the pack, followed by the USA, Kenya, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In addition to Africa-focused fintechs like Apposit, Flutterwave, WorldRemit, and Zeepay, there was representation from numerous multinational organizations, including Microsoft, IBM, Citibank, Ecobank, KCB Group, and TDB. Although foreign participation in the Ethiopian economy has been highly limited to date, many of the international players represented at AFTS are establishing or growing their market presence in light of the current administration?s historic reform agenda, which includes liberalization of the financial services and telecommunications sectors. 

In total, AFTS  hosted ten panel sessions, four keynotes, an Alpha Expo for ten pre-Series A startups, a Flash Pitch Competition, and a reception hosted by USAID. Panelists represented all fintech stakeholder categories?from traditional banks and government to startup entrepreneurs?and covered relevant topics like policy and regulation, blockchain, and remittances. The USAID reception provided an opportunity for AFTS participants to learn more about potential investment opportunities in Ethiopia emerging under the context of the country?s new economic reform agenda. The Ethiopian Investment Commission also had a presence at AFTS Addis where they provided advice and insight on the country?s investment landscape. 

The U.S. Department of State?s Office of Global Partnerships, lead strategic partner of AFTS, organized a Partnership Opportunity Delegation (POD) the week of 18 November that included delegates from the USA and Japan. One objective of the POD was to generate interest and private sector investment in Ethiopia?s tech sector, a priority shared by Ethiopia’s Ministry of Innovation and Technology. Among several other activities, delegates participated in AFTS and P!TCH ETHIOP!A, a partner pitch event to the fintech summit and regional final for Pegasus Tech Ventures? Startup World Cup.  Ethiopia-based AXIOM Financial won the pitch and will proceed on to compete for a $1M grand prize at the SWC global semi-finals in Silicon Valley in May 2020.  AXIOM Financial was also the recipient of the Flash Pitch Competition Award, organized by AFTS. 

A highlight of the summit was the announcement and formalization of a strategic partnership between Ethiopia?s Amole, the technology fueling Dashen Bank?s digital banking service, and Africa?s Talking, a pan-African technology provider. Attendees had the opportunity to see the potential applications of this partnership in a demo session, led by Anthony Kiplimo of Africa?s Talking, that highlighted how an integration with Amole?s payment services could facilitate payments through the Telegram messaging app, a first for Ethiopia. The ease and simplicity of building and monetizing digital services creates a new opportunity for entrepreneurs and enterprises to create powerful scalable solutions that cut across different sectors and geographical boundaries. This will improve the potential value creation in the country and provide job creation opportunities, a priority shared with Ethiopia?s Jobs Creation Commission whose commissioner, Dr. Ephrem T. Lemango,  was also a speaker at AFTS Addis. 

?Ethiopia is ready and wants to grow using new technology,? said Amole?s CEO Yemiru Chanyalew.  ?We have read case studies that support this idea but access and monetization remains the set-back. By engaging in this partnership we become enablers and equalizers at the grassroots level, which will create new jobs and new business models through greater automation capability.? 

A primary objective of the Africa Fintech Summit series is to create a global platform that connects Africa?s fintech stakeholders in order to drive the growth of the fintech sector. The bi-annual summit is organized by Dedalus Global, an investment and communications advisory focusing on emerging markets and emerging technologies. The Ethiopian edition was co-organized by Ibex Frontier, an investment consultancy and route-to-Ethiopian-market advisory. The 5th summit will take place in Washington D.C. on April 16, 2020. 

5 Questions with Admassu Tadesse, President & Chief Executive of Trade and Development Bank (TDB)

In our ?5 Questions? series, we ask partners in the AFTS ecosystem to share about their work and unique perspective on fintech. This ?5 Questions? interview is with Admassu Tadesse, President & Chief Executive of Trade and Development Bank (TDB).

Briefly, can you describe the focus and scope of TDB?s work in Africa?

Established in 1985, the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (TDB) is a specialized, multilateral, treaty-based development financial institution, with assets of USD 6 billion. 

TDB provides a spectrum of lending and non-lending products and services in the multi-sectoral universe of trade finance and socio-economic development, across project, corporate and infrastructure financing. Our geographic scope is limited to eastern and southern Africa. The spectrum ranges from short to medium and long-term financing. We are also active in asset management, where we co-manage special purpose funds.

The Bank approaches its interventions in a manner that pro-actively supports sustainable development, including the reduction of climate risks and expansion of clean energy ? in line with the Paris Agreement and SDG commitments linked to environmental protection. To date, 70% of TDB?s energy portfolio is in renewables and half of its overall portfolio, directly and indirectly, contributes to SDGs.

In 2018, TDB piloted an inclusive women- and youth-focused financing in Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Can you tell us more about this initiative and how it aligns with the Africa 2063 agenda and the U.N. SDG  goals? 

Our SME pilot program has several thrusts to improve access to finance by women and youth SMEs, among others. Using partial guarantees and direct funding, we support microfinance institutions and other financial institutions to formulate and put in place appropriate funding structures for SME finance that incorporate first loss tranches, guarantees, collateral waivers and concessional funds to crowd in and leverage private sector funds, for scaling up and deepening reach as well as technical assistance to support SMEs to increase capacity to manage well their scaling up efforts.

Access to finance and capacity building are key elements in the development financing arrangements supporting job creation and enterprise development.  

You were the recipient of the 2019 edition of the prestigious ?The African Banker of the Year? award. Can you tell us how TDB has grown under your tenure?

I joined the Bank in 2012 and led the development of a new strategy of growth, market and partner expansion, diversification, institutional strengthening, deep reforms, innovation and capital restructuring. In the 7 years since, the Management Team has executed the strategy quite well, and the results speak for themselves. The Bank’s equity capital and annual profits have grown four-fold to USD 1.2 billion and USD 130 million, respectively; assets have grown five-fold to USD 6 billion. Non-performing loans have dropped sharply to a record 2.35%, and the Bank has received several credit ratings upgrades from Fitch, Moody?s and GCR, crossing into investment-grade territory for the first time in 2017.  

The Bank attracted 15 new shareholders, including several pension funds, insurance companies and specialist financial institutions, as well as 5 new Member States, and many more are in the pipeline.  Several new long-term funding partners from Asia, Europe, and the US joined our stable of funders. We have also managed to issue several new global bonds and regional syndicated loans, including in the EU, China, Japan, India, and the Gulf region in the form of a sukuk. The Bank has delivered USD double-digit returns, and paid dividends consistently for several years, with dividend yields ranging between 3%-4%. Also, the Bank successfully introduced a suite of new e-systems, automation as well as new dedicated departments and business initiatives, including risk management, treasury, syndications, ECA finance, agency services, asset management and a new Academy.  It is fair to say the Bank has shot out the lights in terms of its strategy and corporate plan targets.  

How does TDB foresee fintech impacting trade, finance and infrastructure financing in Africa?

Fintech provides a convenient platform of innovative solutions such as blockchain and artificial intelligence to ease trade flows and reduce the turn around time of complex infrastructure transactions among distant and diverse parties. Such platforms enhance the transparency and security of data collection and dissemination, enabling banks to execute swift transactions and to become more efficient, agile and profitable.

TDB is committed to adopting and promulgating Fintech solutions.  A good example is a recent TDB Trade Finance transaction that closed using blockchain technology, the first of its kind within the African DFI community. This kind of transaction will save the Bank significant time and expenses and provide our clients the satisfaction of speed of delivery.  

Fintech will enable more financial inclusion necessary to create value and improve the quality of life in Africa.  Sooner than later, fintech will be the catalyst to bridge the development gap and leapfrog Africa into a more sophisticated and modern society.

Why are you excited to partner with the Africa Fintech Summit in Addis Ababa?

We are pleased to partner with the Africa Finch Summit in Addis Ababa as we believe that innovation is very important in expanding access to finance and reducing the cost of finance. It is also the case that Addis Ababa is a Member State of TDB.

Why invest in Ethiopia?

A perspective by AFTS

Source: Invest Africa

Ethiopia Investment Landscape 

With a population of over  109 million people (2018), Ethiopia is the second-most populous nation in Africa and is home to the fastest growing economy on the continent. Ethiopia currently has a per capita GDP of $865,  with ambitions to reach $2,219 and lower-middle-income status by 2025. Building on the success of double-digit economic growth for more than a decade, the Ethiopian government has unveiled a US $10 billion new economic reform blueprint, dubbed Homegrown Economic Reform. The blueprint presents widespread reforms that pave the way for job creation, poverty reduction, and economic growth.  

The reform agenda?s priority sectors are ICT, agriculture, manufacturing, mining, and tourism.

Cultural and Economic Success Story – ?The Ethiopian Way?  

Ethiopia has several unique characteristics that make it a hot spot for future investment activity. 

From a cultural perspective, Ethiopia prides itself on many factors, most notably: being 1 of only 2 African countries that were never colonized; use of the Julian calendar; the origin of coffee; home to the oldest remains of human beings every discovered; and having ethnic cuisine that?s known and enjoyed worldwide. 

Economically, Ethiopia?s unrivaled growth acceleration over the past decade is attributed to a number of factors including restrained government consumption, investment in public infrastructure, and a conducive external environment. It was Ethiopia?s particular mix of policies, however, that allowed it to achieve an unprecedented growth rate that averaged 10.9% from 2004 to 2014. Ethiopia is anticipated to retain the fastest growing economy title, yet again, with a forecasted growth rate of between 7.7-10% for 2019/2020. The growth acceleration was part of a broader and very successful development experience. Poverty, as measured by income of less than US $1.90/per day, for example,  declined substantially from 55.3% percent in 2000 to 33.5% percent in 2011 and down to 23% in 2016. And despite rapid growth, Ethiopia remained one of the most equal countries in the world with a Gini coefficient of consumption of 0.30 in 2011. Life expectancy has increased by 1-year annually since 2000 and is now higher in Ethiopia than the other low-income and Sub-Saharan Africa averages. The country has made similar advances in other key development indicators, such as reductions in child and infant mortality. As a result, the country has attained most of the Millenium Development Goals and has made early progress towards meeting the targets set out by the Sustainable Development Goals.

For a more in-depth analysis, read the World Bank?s report ?Ethiopia?s Great Run?HERE.

The International Community Has Set their Sights on Ethiopia

Investment Risk & Rewards in Ethiopia 

Source: Control Risks

As Paul Gabriel, Senior Analyst for Africa at London-based Control Risks explains, ?experienced investors ? not only in Africa, but around the world ? know that risk and reward are close companions. While no serious investor should overlook the economic giants of the continent, real competitive edge can only be achieved when investors manage to stay ahead of the pack in knowing what?s next.? In this regard, Ethiopia outperforms every African peer for consecutive years with its high reward score. Read more on this subject HERE for 2019 & HERE for 2018 reports.

Sampling of Past Investors and their Successes 

In Summary: 


To learn more, check out the report from Ibex Frontier, our co-organizer for AFTS Addis, on Ethiopia?s 2017 FDI, M&A and Exits HERE.

Forex Crunch & Profit/Capital Repatriation ? Ethiopia’s Achilles Heel?

With a wide trade deficit gap and economic transformation phase, aimed at export-driven and import-substitutions industrialization, entrepreneurs and investors face a forex shortage in Ethiopia. As the digest Demystifying ETHIOPIA: Repatriation of Profit & Capital ? Perception and Reality by AFTS Co-organizer Zekarias Amsalu outlines, an understanding of the Ethiopian forex regime is crucial. This understanding and proactively planning for compliance can save lots of headaches in repatriations at later stages.

To learn more about investors’ experiences in Ethiopia and hear some mitigating advice, please download the report HERE.

Tech Investment in Africa ? Where is Ethiopia?

Tech investors are noticing Ethiopia lately. The combination of massive infrastructure investment, including more than 21,000.00 fiber optics availability, a growing population of 44M mobile subscribers, and an increasingly tech-savvy young generation of more than one million students in universities and colleges, with 300,000+ graduating every year, is certainly attracting attention. Tech investors are finding an early entry advantage to the awakening giant that is Ethiopia. It is no wonder Ethiopia was the 7th-largest tech investment recipient, with $11.3M disclosed tech investment in Ethiopia. Read full reports of 2019/18 Tech investment reports HERE & HERE.

Why Ethiopia is an Alluring Fintech ?Dreamland?

The numbers are revealing – Ethiopia is largely a cash-based society with only 22% of it?s 109+ million population being current bank account holders. Additionally, there are 18,000 saving & credit cooperatives and 44 million active mobile phone subscribers. The current digital/electronic banking penetration is estimated at only 6% with ambitious targets to reach 40% penetration in digital banking by 2020. This substantial potential for growth is a dream scenario for investors interested in fintech.

Listen to the Africa Fintech Rising Podcast discussion HERE for a rare insight into Ethiopia?s fintech, e-commerce & tech investment opportunities.

Next Steps

We encourage you to visit the Ethiopian Investment Commission?s dedicated page HERE for more information. At the Africa Fintech Summit, EIC will have a dedicated booth and will have expert investment staff available to answer any questions you may have. Until then, Selam!

5 Questions with Moritz Weigel, Founding Director of The China Africa Advisory

In our ?5 Questions? series, we ask partners in the AFTS ecosystem to share about their work and unique perspective on fintech. This ?5 Questions? interview is with Moritz Weigel, Founding Director of The China Africa Advisory.

Briefly, can you describe the focus and scope of the CAA’s work?  

We are an independent German advisory firm that brings sustainable investment to Africa by generating market insights and facilitating innovative B2B and B2G partnerships.  Headquartered in Cologne with representations in Addis Ababa, Dakar, and Libreville on the continent as well as in Beijing and Chengdu in China, we are delivering projects in manufacturing, infrastructure, energy, technology and logistics. 

Tell us about your role in bridging the African-Chinese trade & digital gap. Your founding partners are of Ethiopian & German origin, with extensive Chinese experience and language skills. How is this coming handy in helping African businesses succeed in China and vice versa?

As a German company, we often take the role of a neutral facilitator when it comes to cooperation between African and Chinese partners. A key component of our success is indeed our understanding of the business cultures on both sides. Our Chinese clients value our local expertise in navigating African markets. While in many cases our clients are manufacturers who wish to test the waters through export, our goal is always investment and local production. We also have an increasing number of clients who simply seek investment opportunities, including in fintech. They recognise the great potential of financial technology in Africa given their own experience of the last years in China. The advisory services we provide for African clients is focussed on bringing African brands, rather than goods, into China?s massive consumer market. Taking an African fintech brand to China would be a dream come true. 

You have been involved in China’s Belt & Road initiative in Africa. Can you tell us more about this initiative, and how African businesses, especially fintechs, can benefit from this?  

Under the Belt and Road Initiative, China offers many opportunities for cooperation with African partners. With regard to business, this includes, for example, support for Chinese companies to invest in African countries, including in some African countries? striving fintech sector. African companies should be proactive here and seek investment from, or strategic partnerships with, Chinese partners. This can be done through new business platforms that are emerging under the Belt and Road Initiative, such as the China-Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Summit, or existing associations and networks, such as the China-Africa Business Council that we are also part of. African companies can also benefit indirectly from the Belt and Road Initiative as China?s increasing engagement in Africa is finally putting African markets more on the agenda of investors from other countries, including Germany, Japan, Korea and the United States. Here it can be useful for African fintechs to play potential investors strategically against each other.  

What are some developments in fintech that you are excited to see both in China and Africa? 

Clearly, the rise of financial inclusion and new business opportunities! China has been spearheading developments in this area, both in urban and rural settings, and became a technology leader in fintech, by the way now also fully embracing blockchain technology as part of its national development. In a number of African countries we can now see vibrant start-up scenes joining the handful of already well-established fintech companies with many new promising business models being developed and put into action as we speak. With regard to business between African countries and China, the emerging fintech solutions for e-commerce are very important and exciting. 

Why are you excited to partner with Africa Fintech Summit in Addis Ababa? 

The Africa Fintech Summit is a unique platform that for the first time brings fintech thought-leaders from across the continent together with international investors in Addis Ababa. For us, the Summit is a must both in terms of business development and for first-hand insights on the quickly evolving African fintech landscape. 

5 Questions with Sheldon Himelfarb, PeaceTech Lab CEO

In our ?5 Questions? series, we ask partners in the AFTS ecosystem to share about their work and unique perspective on fintech. This ?5 Questions? interview is with PeaceTech Lab CEO Sheldon Himelfarb.

What is the objective of PeaceTech Lab?

Our mantra at PeaceTech Lab is ?we put the right tools in the right hands to counter violence and build peace.? We do this by leveraging low-cost, easy-to-use tech in partnership with the people best positioned to make a difference: local activists, peacebuilders, and NGOs in some of the most violent places on earth.

Today, conflict is the reason for nearly all of the 68 million displaced people worldwide. Last year alone saw a record 15 million refugees flee their homes and over 9,000 lives lost to terrorist attacks. Low estimates put the cost of violence at more than $14 trillion per year, a number that is expected to increase significantly as displacement from climate change and resource scarcity worsens.

I?m proud that in five years as an independent nonprofit, we?ve been able to bring together engineers and activists, MBAs and conflict experts, social scientists, data scientists, and other innovators to help develop solutions to these intractable problems.

What is your role at PeaceTech Lab? How did you get involved with the organization?

In 2008, the U.S. Institute of Peace noticed that in every conflict situation around the world, there were people using the power of tech and social media to spread and amplify violence. As a result, USIP offered me the opportunity to lead a ?Center of Innovation? that would study in earnest how the same tech, media, and data being used for harm could be used for peace.

In 2014, USIP made the courageous decision to spin out their ?Center of Innovation? to what is now known as PeaceTech Lab, an independent nonprofit with its own expert staff and board of directors. 

I have been privileged to serve as CEO of PeaceTech Lab these past five years. One of the most exciting things about becoming our own nonprofit is that it has allowed us to work with a variety of partners including corporations like  Amazon Web Services, which fully funded a tech training workshop for refugees in Kakuma refugee camp in Uganda, Orange Telecom, which has supported our work helping NGOs counter violent extremism in Niger, and ChannelsTV, one of Africa?s largest independent news networks, whose Chairman John Momoh serves on our Board of Directors, and with whom we?ve done journalistic trainings on countering hate speech and fake news. 

What tools does PeaceTech Lab use to accomplish its work?

PeaceTech Lab?s programs begin at the local level, where week-long PeaceTech Exchanges (PTX) connect civil society organizations, technologists, and governments to solve complex problems using simple, low-cost tools. PTX participants with promising ideas are awarded micro-grants to further develop their projects. For peacetech entrepreneurs with more advanced business models and proven success, we offer mentorship, training, and an opportunity to pitch high-level investors through our PeaceTech Accelerator program based at our headquarters here in Washington, D.C.

Media also plays a key role in amplifying peacebuilding efforts by providing a platform for youth and other underserved voices. Programs like radio drama ?Sawa Shabab? in South Sudan and ?Hirka Nabadda? in Somalia combine education and entertainment to engage citizens around topics like coexistence, national identity, gender equality, and youth empowerment. 

The arrival of social media, satellites, and smartphones in fragile countries marks an unprecedented opportunity to do better, earlier warnings of conflict from an increasing array of data sources. In countries in Africa and the Middle East, including Yemen, Cameroon, and South Sudan, PeaceTech Lab leverages the expertise of local teams and social media analysis to understand how online hate speech can lead to radicalization and violence.

How do you see PeaceTech Lab?s work intersecting with the growth of the financial technology sector? 

As the peacetech and fintech fields grow, one thing I think we both have to fight is the stigma around ?who creates and uses tech.? People are often surprised when I tell them that we have been in refugee camps that have faster internet speeds than the ones at home, or that I was working with journalists in Iraq to combat fake news on Facebook years before the issue ever took hold in the U.S.

Similarly, you have people who can?t imagine how farmers in Africa could use blockchain or cryptocurrencies in their work, and yet, the fintech entrepreneurs closest to these farmers are designing high tech solutions that rival anything coming out of Silicon Valley. 

You also have places like Lagos, Nigeria — one of the most crime and violence-prone cities on the planet — ranking as Africa?s most valuable startup ecosystem, thanks largely to the fintech revolution. This places a positive, international spotlight on an area more often recognized for what is going wrong than what is going right. It is an exciting new direction, but one that needs to be matched in terms of ?peace gains? to make sure these trends continue.

What are some specific fintech developments on the African continent that you are paying attention to as potential catalysts for PeaceTech Lab?s work?

Unemployment, corruption, resource scarcity — these are all problems we know can lead to conflict when left unaddressed. These are also the very issues that I think fintech shows the greatest promise for solving, and Africa is certainly the place to watch. It?s remarkable how in many places, the idea of traditional banking and financing has been ?leap-frogged? by mobile apps and cryptocurrencies. That?s why we?ve made a concerted effort to use African-founded platforms in our work around the world.

For instance, the mobile money app M-pesa, which was first created by Vodaphone for use in Kenya and Tanzania, has been a staple of our training sessions to counter corruption in countries like Afghanistan, where people often see large amounts of their paychecks disappear due to ?middle men.?

Supply chains are another area where we?re seeing amazing innovation coming out of the continent. Annona (based in Kenya) and Jetstream Africa (based in Ghana) are two startups who participated in our PeaceTech Accelerator and who are using tech to tackle pain points in the logistics/supply chain field in order to better serve African producers. The founder of a third company from our Accelerator, Agromovil, was inspired to tackle the problem of transportation when he met farmers in Nigeria who had no reliable way of getting their goods to market. 

Finally, CovenWorks, a Nigerian-based startup, is helping tackle unemployment by creating a web and video-based platform for technical job training, applications, and interviews. The founder, Olusola Amusan, was particularly concerned with at-risk youth who might be susceptible to joining groups like Boko Haram. His startup is an incredible example of how opening access to employment and financial markets is key in our work for peace.

These are just some of the companies we are excited to be working with right now, and we know there are many more on the rise. That?s why PeaceTech Lab recently teamed up with the award-winning podcast, Global Startup Movement, which highlights new tech from around the world. One recent podcast guest, Akin Sawyerr, shared how the increase of cryptocurrency users in Africa led him to create his company RocRemit, a blockchain remittance company fostering transparency and good governance. RocRemit is the kind of company on the cutting edge of what?s possible in Africa, and we look forward to sharing many similar peacetech/fintech stories in the future through the podcast!

5 Questions with Joshua Oigara, KCB Group CEO & MD

In our ?5 Questions? series, we ask partners in the AFTS ecosystem to share about their work and unique perspective on fintech. This ?5 Questions? interview is with Joshua Oigara, the CEO & MD of KCB Group, which is a sponsor of the AFTS Addis Ababa event.

Briefly, what is the scope of KCB Group?s work?

Our customers are the pillar that has propelled us to become the biggest bank in the region. That is why we have purposed to refocus our efforts in ensuring that we not only retain our customers, but we expand the customer base by engaging them with a bouquet of products that suits their needs. Our focus is to proactively support our customers to be where growth is, enabling businesses to thrive and economies across the East African region to prosper, and ultimately helping people to fulfill their hopes and realise their financial and investment ambitions. KCB Group Plc is East Africa?s largest commercial Bank that was established in 1896 in Kenya. Over the years, the Bank has grown and spread its wings into Tanzania, South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia (Rep). Further to the banking businesses in these markets, KCB Group has added to its Kenyan banking subsidiaries National Bank of Kenya, a listed lender. Today, KCB Group Plc has the largest branch network in the region with 330 branches, 1,076 ATMs and over 18,818 merchants and agents offering banking services on a 24/7 basis in East Africa. Additionally, KCB Group owns KCB Insurance Agency, KCB Capital Limited, KCB Foundation and Kencom House Limited as non-banking businesses. This is complemented by mobile banking and internet banking services with 24-hour contact center services for our customers to get in touch with the Bank. The Bank has a wide network of correspondent relationships totaling over 200 banks across the globe and our customers are assured of a seamless facilitation of their international trade requirements wherever they are.  

Tell us about your plans to enter the Ethiopian market. What are the unique challenges and opportunities in that market?

We are certainly excited by the possibilities that abound with the reforms that we can see in Ethiopia under the able leadership Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ? now the 2019 Nobel Peace Laureate.

The Ethiopian market bodes well for the future considering the growth rate within the market and the size of the addressable population. We are keeping a close eye on the discussion from the regulators and government agencies on the possibility of amending the laws to permit foreign banks to operate within the market.

We are optimistic that the financial regulations in Ethiopia will continue to evolve to deepen financial inclusion across the country. We are waiting for the pace of liberalization of financial services to increase in order for KCB to bring its signature banking services to Ethiopia as early as possible.

We are setting ourselves up to facilitate trade finance for our customers across the eastern Africa region. KCB has been gradually working on strengthening its capacity in Ethiopia with a focus on serving clients conducting business with Ethiopia from the Eastern Africa region both locals and other nationals. We now have a functional Rep office in Ethiopia and we are continually engaging the Ethiopian authorities on our operations. KCB remains open to partnerships opportunities as we seek a firmer grounding for our new business in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian financial services sector is one of the most promising but highly regulated in Africa.

How have you seen the relationship between fintech and banking evolve over your years of work in the space?

Digital disruption, and especially mobile technology in and around Africa, is significantly accelerating towards a revived fintech industry. For KCB, this presents an opportunity to transform and simplify how financial services are being offered. Our plan is to leverage the opportunity of all markets to meet the changing behavior and expectations of customers who are increasingly becoming used to the immediacy offered by technology. In 2015, we announced a partnership with Safaricom, which is a telco, to offer our customers a savings and loan product called KCB-MPESA. That partnership grew our customer base from four million to more than 12 million today. Our pride remains the traction the mobile lending channel has generated. Further, we will enhance the capacity of the platform to make payments. Partnerships are one of the keys to our future growth and deepening financial inclusion beyond the traditionally banked in order to reach those who have been excluded by brick and mortar banking. The average mobile loan that we lend in Kenya today is $50 with a repayment rate of 98 percent. It shows you how the models we use can work just fine, even for those who have no access to bank branches.

What are some recent fintech developments that you are interested in applying across your work?

From the traditional brick and mortar branches to convenience wherever and whenever you may need, we are tirelessly working on developing platforms that will serve our vast distribution of customers in entirety. We have rolled out different channels that ease access to banking services, without having to walk into a branch. The digital age has opened exciting possibilities that could not have been attained without the wonders of the latest technology. We have to stay at the cutting edge in order to deepen financial inclusion and sustainably create more value for our shareholders.

Why are you excited to partner with the Africa Fintech Summit in Addis Ababa?

This summit provides the right kind of energy that we need to drive the change that our African economies covet: driving change through technological revolution. Technology changes so fast that just a short decade ago, ATM was king. That has been largely supplanted by mobile. We need to be the change that our continent needs and Addis Ababa is a great host, first of all as the capital of Pan-Africanism, and secondly because the wind of change that is blowing throughout this land is palpable across the whole world. Of course, it?s exciting to be here at a time when Prime Minister Abiy is celebrating winning the Nobel Peace Prize in October. He?s done proud for the region and for Africa and its, therefore, a great time to be in Addis.

KCB Group to Sponsor the Africa Fintech Summit in Addis Ababa


The Africa Fintech Summit (AFTS) is pleased to announce that KCB Group PLC, East Africa?s largest indigenous banking group by asset size, will be partnering with AFTS as a sponsor for the November 21st summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The sponsorship is in line with KCB?s focus to embrace innovation and digitization beyond its current realm of operations, with a view to serve its customers better by providing efficient and affordable services.

Over the years, KCB has grown and spread its wings into Tanzania, South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia (Rep). In addition to the banking businesses in these markets, KCB Group has added to its Kenyan banking subsidiaries the National Bank of Kenya (NBK), a listed lender.

?We are thrilled to have KCB Group join us for the AFTS Addis event and to have Joshua share his wealth of insight on future-proof banking as an acknowledged influential economic leader in Africa. Banks are an integral part of the fintech ecosystem in Africa and having such a prominent bank like KCB Group, that has both a Pan-African footprint and an Ethiopian expansion plan, be a part of the conversation will be fantastic.? said Zekarias Amsalu, Founder and MD of Ibex Frontier and a co-organizer of AFTS.

Today, KCB Group Plc has the largest branch network in the region with 330 branches, 1,076 ATMs and over 18,818 merchants and agents offering banking services on a 24/7 basis in East Africa. Additionally, KCB Group owns KCB Insurance Agency, KCB Capital Limited, KCB Foundation and Kencom House Limited as non-banking businesses.

This is complemented by mobile banking and internet banking services with 24-hour contact center services for their customers to get in touch with the Bank. The Bank has a wide network of correspondent relationships totaling over 200 banks across the globe and customers are assured of seamless facilitation of their international trade requirements wherever they are.  

Joshua Oigara, the KCB Group CEO and MD, who will be a keynote speaker at the forum, notes that fintech is gaining significant momentum and causing disruption to the traditional value chain, prompting banks to seek new growth opportunities through the frontier.

?Today, most countries have deeper and more stable financial systems, thanks to innovations that have helped Africa leapfrog more traditional banking models. The banking sector in particular has benefited from the rapid penetration of mobile technology across the continent with Kenya being a frontrunner in this space? said Mr. Oigara.

?Such technological advancements are not just shaping how people interact with one another; they are also changing the behavior and expectations of customers who are increasingly becoming used to the immediacy offered by technology,? added Mr. Oigara who is also the Chairman of the Kenya Bankers Association, an industry lobby.

In addition to KCB Group, AFTS Addis is also sponsored by Amole, Flutterwave, M-BIRR & IrisGuard. Strategic partners for the summit include PeaceTech Lab, Corporate Council on Africa, Startup World Cup, the US-Nigeria Council, ICT-ET and the Congo Business Network. The 4th edition of AFTS will focus on the future of banking, mobile money growth and integration, E-commerce, policy and regulation, blockchain, digital identity, remittances, and financial inclusion.

Tickets for AFTS Addis Ababa are on sale now. To learn more or to register, visit

For more information, please contact Cambria Hayashino, Director of Communications, AFTS at

About KCB Group PLC

KCB Group Plc is East Africa?s largest commercial Bank that was established in 1896 in Kenya. Over the years, the Bank has grown and spread its wings into Tanzania, South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia (Rep). Further to the banking businesses in these markets, KCB Group has added to its Kenyan banking subsidiaries the National Bank of Kenya, a listed lender. Today KCB Group Plc has the largest branch network in the region with 330 branches, 1,076 ATMs and over 18,818 merchants and agents offering banking services on a 24/7 basis in East Africa. Additionally, KCB Group owns KCB Insurance Agency, KCB Capital Limited, KCB Foundation and Kencom House Limited as non-banking businesses. This is complemented by mobile banking and internet banking services with a 24-hour contact center services for our customers to get in touch with the Bank. The Bank has a wide network of correspondent relationships totaling over 200 banks across the globe and our customers are assured of seamless facilitation of their international trade requirements wherever they are.  

For further information about KCB Group, please contact Judith Sidi Odhiambo, Group Head of Corporate & Regulatory Affairs; email: