The Key to Digital banking growth in Africa – Technology Infrastructure

Emmanuel Allottey

The adoption of Digital channels for financial transactions has seen exponential growth driven by the impact of COVID-19. Restrictions on social contact and crowding of physical transaction channels has magnified the convenience and value of digital channels.

Financial Institutions have aggressively accelerated the development of features and functionality of their digital offerings in response to the increased demand for remote customer transactions. A multi-channel approach consisting of traditional face to face interaction, over the phone, online or using a mobile application are now recognized methods of engaging with Financial Institutions in Africa.

Digital banking is underpinned by telecommunication infrastructure and connectivity. In Africa, between 90 and 98 percent of all internet connections are via mobile network operators. Africa’s internet penetration remains low at 25 percent and so is access to electricity which is at an average of 43 percent compared a global average of 87 percent, limiting the adoption of life-changing technologies in all sectors.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest internet prices in the world. According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and World Bank estimates, the average price of a broadband connection in Sub-Saharan Africa is about USD 110 for 100 kilobits per second compared to an average of USD 19 in other parts of the world.

This disproportionate average cost is reflective of the lack of technology infrastructure making it costly to connect to the internet. The African Union, with support from the World Bank Group, has set the goal of connecting every individual, business, and government on the continent by 2030. Today, more than 1.2 million kilometres of Internet cables run across the oceans' floors, but just 20 years ago Africa was completely disconnected.

Financial institutions striving to provide customers with the best digital experience have to transcend from just offering cutting-edge new products and features, to supporting a cost effective, seamless, personalized internet connectivity.

The growth in digital banking requires active collaboration between Financial Institutions and stakeholders to bring affordable connectivity to rural and semi-rural regions. These projects require significant investment which are endorsed by governments that understand the key contribution of broadband connectivity to economic growth.

Financial interaction through Digital Banking is evolving in Africa. The progression of technology infrastructure development has been exacerbated by COVID-19 which is fortuitous as it holds a sure promise of leapfrogging Africa into the 4th industrial revolution.


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