MFW4A and IFC Lead Efforts to Boost Support for Responsible Digital Finance Investments in Africa

Oct 04, 2018

The Responsible Finance Forum, the first ever to be held in Africa, gathered together leading investors, policymakers and practitioners to assess critical challenges in financial services in Africa where large number of women, rural poor and MSMEs remain financially excluded.

Dar Es Salaam, October 2, 2018 -  MFW4A in collaboration with the IFC, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ/GIZ), CGAP, the Better than Cash Alliance at the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the World Bank held its ninth annual Responsible Finance Forum (RFF), in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The RFF, the first ever to be held in Africa, gathered together leading investors, policymakers and practitioners to assess critical challenges in financial services in Africa where large number of women, rural poor and MSMEs remain financially excluded. Over 140 participants from 30 countries in Africa, including representatives from central banks and insurance regulators took part in plenary and deep-dive sessions to explore the latest initiatives, business models and fintech innovations to advance responsible investments in digital financial services.

The meeting also saw signatories to the Guidelines for Investing in Responsible Digital Financial Services – an initiative launched jointly by IFC and leading investors and digital finance innovators in June 2018, grow to 80 organizations, proving a major boost for this strategically important initiative. The forum was opened by the Deputy Director of the Bank of Tanzania, Dr. Bernard Kibesse, who welcomed the participants in Dar es Salaam, and recognized the importance of ensuring that digital financial services are delivered responsibly, particularly among the vulnerable groups that are prone to abuse, the rural population, MSMEs, youth and women.

In his opening remarks, David Ashiagbor, Coordinator of the Making Finance Work for Africa Partnership (MFW4A) said: “Central to our work in financial inclusion is to promote an enabling environment that protects consumers on the one hand, and fosters innovation and competitive markets on the other. Both aspects are closely link by the fundamental prerequisite of a well-functioning financial sector: ‘trust’. Building consumer trust is key for achieving sustainable uptake and active usage of digital financial services”.

Martin Holtmann, IFC’s Head of Microfinance and Digital Finance, said: “This Forum is happening at a critical juncture for Africa, to refresh how we provide finance for all, including the persistently underserved by using technology as a solution along with responsible investments that helps manage DFS consumer risks together with traditional risk management. We welcome the new signatories to the Investor Guidelines, as the Guidelines play a key role in helping us to accelerate investments that create value-added benefits for digital finance customers and broader digital ecosystems and catalyze investments in responsible digital innovation.”

Leveraging technology and digital innovation is key to improving access beyond traditional financial sector providers and newer entrants are rapidly disrupting the landscape, making it easier than before to expand access to financial services to hard-to-reach populations and small businesses. While opportunities have increased, so have risks for digital financial services, particularly for the lower income customers in rural, nascent, fragile and conflict affected markets. Industry deep dives relevant to Africa’s evolving digital landscape were led by CGAP, GIZ, and UNCDF/BTCA, each covering respectively: value driven uses of DFS and the role of customer empowerment; data analytics and consumer data protection; and regulation and industry standards evolving in DFS, such as the GSMA’s Mobile Money Certification Scheme.

MFW4A led a panel of regulators and supervisors, including from the Bank of Tanzania, the National Switch Company Limited of Malawi, Inter-African Conference for Insurance and the Insurance Regulatory Authority of Kenya to obtain different perspectives on enabling Africa’s digital transformation for responsible financial inclusion.

Responsible finance has been an important topic since the 2008 financial crisis, and a cornerstone of the World Bank Group’s Universal Financial Access goals, contributes to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and remains a high level priority of the G20 Presidency of the Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI). IFC has helped to facilitate the RFF for over a decade, alongside inaugural partners, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ/GIZ), the Netherlands Government, and the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP).

IFC and Making Finance Work for Africa co-led this year’s collaboration with CGAP, GIZ, UNCDF/BTCA and the World Bank.

*** Read more about the RFF's Agenda and Speakers.

About IFC

IFC — a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in the toughest areas of the world. In fiscal year 2018, we delivered more than $23 billion in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity.For more information, visit 

 About MFW4A

The Making Finance Work for Africa Partnership (MFW4A) was established as a platform for financial sector development research, advocacy, knowledge management and networking. We bring together African governments, development partners, the private sector, and other stakeholders to address financial sector development priorities on the continent. Our partners (AfDB, AFD, EIB, GIZ and the Ministry of Netherlands) share a common vision of innovation, robust and competitive African financial systems, providing near-universal access by 2030, and offering a full range of products and services for the continent’s real sector.

About RFF

The Responsible Finance Forum (RFF) is dedicated to advancing new evidence, solutions and practices to achieve financial inclusion and digital innovation. Since 2009, the RFF has been an annual milestone event that brings together the private sector, governments, practitioners, policy makers, academia, and consumers to share emerging best practices, concrete solutions and ongoing initiatives to scale up financial inclusion globally.

For more information, visit