The Kigali International Financial Centre, a Rwandan institution facilitating international investment and cross-border transactions in Africa, has partnered with Elevandi, a company established by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), to host the Inclusive FinTech Forum (IFF) from 20-22 June at the Kigali Convention Centre in Rwanda.
The Forum's goal is to support financial inclusion and responsible fintech practices by encouraging conversations about technology and policy, with a primary focus on the Global South, stretching from Africa to Latin America and Asia. Through these discussions, the event aims to make fintech development fair, easily accessible and sustainable for everyone.
Elevandi, established by MAS, seeks to encourage open dialogue between the public and private sectors to further fintech in the digital economy. It conducts research and facilitates events, roundtables, investor programmes and educational projects to further its mission. Elevandi’s notable initiatives include the Singapore FinTech Festival and other emerging platforms such as the World FinTech Festival, Point Zero Forum, and Elevandi Insights Forum.
The IFF’s format includes main stage sessions featuring keynotes and thought leader discussions; industry and ecosystem stages focusing on various segments of the fintech industry, and a series of Elevandi’s signature programmes. These programmes encompass the Elevandi Insights Forum for deep-dive roundtables, Founders Peak for 10-minute talks from successful founders, and the Capital Meets Policy Dialogue for perspectives on regulation and investment. Additionally, the Forum offers a curated space for exhibitors, workshops, mentorship sessions, and a talent pavilion.
Notable speakers at the event include Tidjane Thiam, board chairman of Rwanda Finance Limited; Ravi Menon, managing director of MAS; and well-known African venture capital investor Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, founding partner and chief executive officer of Future Africa.
“Rwanda is a renowned thought leader in the fintech space and therefore perfectly positioned to host global conversations on financial inclusion and innovation. Moreover, Rwanda has earned the stripes when it comes to running top-notch events. The country has become a key event hub in Africa and the venue in Kigali is world-class,” commented HE Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye, the High Commissioner of the Republic of Rwanda in Singapore in an interview with the NTU-SBF Centre for African Studies.
“Concurrently, Singapore has been extensively engaging African nations through a series of bilateral focused use cases to build an international ecosystem on supply chain finance, digital infrastructure, and cross-border B2B fintech companies solving a wide range of opportunities and connecting the Global South, with Africa being its centre. In this context, Singapore has established a solid and fruitful relationship with Rwanda, which made the country an obvious choice to launch IFF,” he added.
Africa's fintech sector has experienced substantial growth in recent years, with start-ups addressing a wide range of areas from digital payments and lending to insurtech and cryptocurrencies. McKinsey & Company reports that between 2020 and 2021, the number of tech startups in Africa tripled to approximately 5,200 companies. Nearly half of these are fintechs, striving to disrupt and enhance traditional financial services. In 2022, fintech accounted for 39% of venture capital invested in the continent, attracting US$1.9bn across 217 deals. Nigeria led with US$798m, followed by South Africa (US$388m) and Egypt (US$262m). Ghana, Kenya, and Senegal raised US$115m, US$95m, and US$94m, respectively. Altogether, these six countries represented 91% of funding for African fintechs.
According to McKinsey, cash remains the predominant method for approximately 90% of transactions in Africa, indicating significant growth potential for fintech revenues. If the sector can achieve penetration rates akin to those in Kenya, a country with one of the highest levels of digital money adoption worldwide, African fintech revenues could potentially multiply eightfold by 2025. The growth of the industry is being driven by several trends, such as increased smartphone ownership, reduced internet costs, improved network coverage, and a rapidly growing young and urbanising population. In many cases, fintech providers are offering substantial value to customers, with transactional solutions up to 80% more affordable and interest on savings about three times higher than those from traditional players. Additionally, the cost of remittances can be up to six times lower.
‘Fintech in Africa: The end of the beginning’, McKinsey & Company, 30 August 2022
‘Rwanda and Singapore launch annual global Inclusive FinTech Forum to advance innovation in inclusive finance’, Inclusive FinTech Forum, 25 January 2023
‘2022 Africa tech venture capital report’, Partech, 2023