Africa: Which countries are investing in fintech?

By Nicholas Norbrook
Posted on Friday, 28 January 2022 18:19

A Samsung flagship store on Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street in Shanghai, China, January 12, 2022. Samsung and JD signed a strategic cooperation agreement for 2022 to further deepen and expand their cooperation. (Photo by Wang Gang / Costfoto/Sipa USA)/

Let us assume, for a second, that the world will belong to those countries who best master the technology of today and best prepare for the technologies of tomorrow. How might that be fostered?

In the 1990s, the South Korean government invested massively in broadband infrastructure; Samsung now rules the waves – the only company close to rivalling US firm Apple.

On the continent, different approaches have emerged in two growing tech powerhouses. In Nigeria, the central government holds its young tech-savvy entrepreneurs responsible for enabling the 2020 #EndSARS protests that culminated in the Lekki massacre. The central bank has banned commercial banks from participating in cryptocurrency transactions.

But the barriers to technology go beyond the latest government crackdown. A survey by Nigeria’s science and tech ministry showed that innovation within local companies was edged out by the other concerns they face daily.

“In Nigeria, firms have to struggle to provide their own electricity, water, security, haulage,” researcher Abiodun Egbetokun told reporters.

Egypt, too, has had a difficult relationship with tech since it helped enable the Tahrir Square-birthed revolution of 2011. In recent years, however, the government has tried to grow the sector; it recently launched a fintech support fund worth £1bn ($64m) and licensed non-banking financial companies.

Disrupt Africa’s latest deep dive on the subject shows Egypt is the ‘fourth-largest startup ecosystem on the continent’. Egyptian start-ups raised $190m in 2020; in 2021, they had surpassed that figure by July.

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