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3i Summit records major deals: $100 million for SMEs in Ghana – BoG reports on eCedi’s success


Africa’s first-ever digital economy summit, the 3i Africa Summit, has shown that collaboration between countries is critical to ensuring the success of initiatives tailored to boosting Africa’s payments system.

The three days of discussions and other activities at the first Financial Technology (FinTech) Summit in Accra also concluded that players in the space should not work in silos if their initiatives are to have the needed impact.

For example, the only summit in Africa that successfully brought together high-level policy makers, industry experts, business leaders and change makers under one roof highlighted the need for a digital identification (DI) system and network interoperability across the continent. .

Reflecting on the summit, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Development Bank Ghana (DBG), K. Duker, in an interview with the Daily Graphic, said: “the 3i Africa Summit exceeded the expectations of the organizers and their partners, setting new standards.”

The Bank of Ghana (BoG), DBG and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), through its subsidiary Elevandi, organized the summit with the theme: “Unleashing Africa’s Fintech and Digital Economic Potential”.

Initially aimed at 2,500 people, the 3i Africa Summit welcomed more than 8,700 registered participants, of which more than 7,500 were physical attendees.

The number included 1,724 policymakers, 4,786 industry experts and 1,230 researchers from 95 countries around the world.

In addition, the event had 240 speakers and discussants, 58 sessions, 15 tracks, nine stages and 10 innovator pitches.

Catalyst

Mr Duker explained that the summit, which focused on players in Africa’s digital economy, was overwhelmingly successful in catalyzing investment and promoting economic growth across the continent and generating global partnerships for sustainable development .

He said the summit met expectations because it was not a talking shop, but a means to accelerate economic transformation. “The summit, over three days, recorded the start of progressive policies, the conclusion of important cooperation agreements and the making of important announcements,” said the CEO of DBG.

Wamkele Mene, Secretary General of the African Continental Free Trade Area, will speak at the event

DBG, Proxtera deal

Notable among these, Mr. Duker noted, was the $100 million deal between DBG and Proxtera, a Singapore-based open and neutral hub that digitally connects Business-to-Business (B2B) marketplaces, service providers and trade associations connects to simplify and stimulate trade for small businesses. and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

He explained that the agreement between the two institutions was for the support of SMEs through the Ghana Integrated Financial Ecosystem (GIFE) platform. GIFE is a joint initiative between BoG, DBG and MAS to provide SMEs with a digital journey, equip them with financial literacy, create trusted credentials through the Universal Trusted Credentials framework, access working capital and other cross-border trading opportunities with Asia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, consisting of 10 countries.

Mr Duker added that GIFE, which was launched at the Singapore Fintech Festival 2022, was operationalized in the first half of last year, with the financial institution’s pilot partner being the Consolidated Bank of Ghana (CBG).

“GIFE is currently a digital journey for SMEs, starting from financial literacy, creating trusted credentials using the global Universal Trusted Credentials framework, access to working capital and cross-border trade with Asia and the ASEAN region,” said he.

Mr. Duker emphasized that with the financing support now signed, the upcoming phase of GIFE would see broader participation from more financial institutions, with a focus on scale and digital access to global trading markets, with local financial and educational support.

During the summit, Proxtera also signed another landmark agreement with Fidelity Bank to provide financial support to SMEs that have joined the GIFE program.

“This is intended to provide SMEs with an unparalleled opportunity to position themselves to become global players,” said a statement from Fidelity Bank.

Semi-fungible token

In addition, BoG also announced the successful completion of the first Proof of Concept (POC) as part of its Digital Economy Semi-Fungible Token (DESFT) project, which demonstrates the successful execution of a cross-border transaction payment using digital credentials, the eCedi and an approved stablecoin from Singapore.

The project, which started in June 2023, is a collaboration between the Central Bank and the MAS. Project DESFT aims to support small and medium-sized businesses in Africa, particularly those in Ghana, to participate in international trade by removing key barriers they face, such as building trust abroad with trading partners and obtaining support for cross-border payments and supply chain financing.

Huge boost

“The 3i Africa Summit, apart from the deals and agreements, had other successes that led to the conclusion that the FinTech sector in Ghana and across Africa has indeed seen a tremendous boost in its rise,” Mr. Duker noted.

On the technology side, he said the event recorded 2,896 subscribers on the 3i Africa Summit app and trended on X (formerly Twitter) long after the three days of the event.

“Looking beyond the 3i Africa Summit, it is very clear that the fintech sector and its players across Africa have received the strongest support ever. This covers potential policy changes, access to financing and technical cooperation,” said Duker.

Background

The 3i Africa Summit, opened last Monday by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, was anchored on the pillars of innovation, investment and impact. It led to an agenda of transformation for sustainable development across Africa.

The pillars also aimed to stimulate conversations to address key opportunities in the FinTech industry and explore how markets and companies are leapfrogging from legacy technologies.

The 3i Africa Summit has proven to be a game-changing platform for change makers to initiate and execute creative solutions designed specifically to address Africa’s unique challenges and capitalize on its wealth of prospects.

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