African countries asked to collaborate to enhance cross-border trade
Kwabena Boateng — Divisional Director Corporate and Investment Banking, Fidelity Bank Ghana
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African countries asked to collaborate to enhance cross-border trade

The Divisional Director of Corporate and Institutional Banking at Fidelity Bank Ghana, Kwabena Boateng,  has stressed the need for collaboration among African countries to enable businesses, particularly those in the financial services sector, on the continent to thrive.

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"No business can thrive in isolation, especially in a country where only 38% of people have bank accounts. To grow, we must consider the broader African market," he stated. 

He was speaking at the business roundtable 2024 in Accra on the theme; "African Businesses: Collaborating for Global Success." 

Mr Boateng emphasised the critical role of digital transformation and collaboration in shaping the future of banking and African business.

"Over the past decade, internet users in Ghana have grown from 5.3 million to approximately 24 million, indicating the deep integration of internet usage in society. 

The critical question now is how we utilise this data effectively to drive digital banking," Mr Boateng said.

Highlighting the shift towards digital financial transactions, he noted that while 40% of Ghanaians have bank accounts, many remain dormant. Conversely, 60% of Ghanaians use mobile money, reflecting the impact of internet connectivity on financial transactions. 

"In the past year, 64% of Ghanaians initiated digital payments, signalling a significant shift from traditional banking to digitisation. However, debit card usage remains low at around 18 per cent, due to the prevalence of mobile money," he noted. 

Mr Boateng noted the rapid digital transformation sweeping across Africa, fuelled by a growing population, increased mobile phone penetration and significant internet user growth.

He mentioned the success of Ghanaian company ZeePay, which recently acquired a 51% stake in a Zambian company, as an example of the importance of regional expansion and collaboration. 

ZeePay's operations across 20 African countries and over $3 billion in facilitated transactions demonstrate the global potential of African companies.

Fintechs

Mr Boateng applauded the rise of African FinTech companies like M-Pesa, EcoCash, Flutterwave, Paystack, Leatherback and Onafriq.  

These companies, along with Agritech solutions like Complete Farmer and Aerobotics, he said, are revolutionising financial services, cross-border payments and agricultural productivity across the continent.

"This mutual dependency between banks and FinTechs will drive the agenda of business collaboration in Africa, leading to global success," he said.

Setbacks

Despite the optimistic outlook, he acknowledged challenges faced by African businesses, including limited access to finance, underdeveloped infrastructure and regulatory limitations.  

Mr Boateng outlined a roadmap for greater success and emphasised the importance of collaboration, both within the private sector and with governments.

Role of govts

Mr Boateng also highlighted the crucial role of governments in creating an enabling environment. 

"Collaboration on critical infrastructure projects, like transportation and energy, is essential. 

"The Rwanda Innovation Fund serves as a shining example of how public-private partnerships can support innovation and technology hubs," he said.

"Supportive policies that promote openness and reduce barriers are key to facilitating cross-border trade and investment. Regional trade agreements and initiatives like ECOWAS and AfCFTA represent significant steps toward economic integration and collaboration," Mr Boateng said. 

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