Travel is at the forefront of the gainers as Africa’s 3.7% growth rate, a soaring population currently numbering around 1.2 billion, expanding cities and cash flow kick in. Yet,that is not enough on a continent where the most polite thing said of its banking sector is that it ‘needs a shakeup’ (Africa Progress Panel, chaired by Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations and Nobel laureate).
As the African Progress Panel points out, while around 70% of Africans have a mobile phone, only one in five has any form of account with a formal financial institution. That is a major drag on growth as it means that much of African’s business remains cash-based.
So, commerce should thank Interswitch for helping lay the foundations of a more supportive financial infrastructure. Sensibly, given that their sector is so ripe for disruption, most banks are buying into its innovations. This Nigerian-based, pan-African group has become so successful that in the next few months it is likely to become Africa’s first ‘unicorn’.