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Cashless economies – Fact or Fiction?

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Ebo Richardson Chief Enablement Information Officer Absa Bank Ghana 1
Ebo Richardson, Chief Enablement & Information Officer, Absa Bank Ghana

There is no doubt that Covid-19 has accelerated digital and technology adoption across the Continent, driving banks and other businesses to fast-track their digital transformation efforts and expedite creation of solid platforms for innovative solutions.  One obvious manifestation of this has been the growth of online transactions and ongoing embedment of 24/7 banking.  But the question remains: What lies ahead, as we approach what is expected to be a “better normal”?

 

Digital Banking in Africa

While cash is still predominantly used for payments across the African Continent, great strides have been made towards the realisation of the so-called “cashless society”.  Of course, Covid-19 has been a key catalyst, with lockdowns, health and safety protocols, and merchant / commercial restrictions significantly limiting physical interactions and thus reducing cash-based transactions.  The fact is, going cashless, or at least “cash-lite”, is possible and remains a likely future scenario, given the development and trends we are seeing.

Banks and other financial institutions, however, will need to provide incentives and demonstrate unparalleled convenience in order to encourage consumers to make the switch in a sustainable way.  Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, regulators will need to create the requisite policy frameworks that stimulate and support adoption, as well as safeguarding consumer interests.

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Indeed, Rwanda is one of the African countries leading the charge, with a goal of being a cashless society by 2024.  Significantly, in alignment with this goal, the Rwandan government recently provided free meters to all taxi drivers, ensuring that only digital payments could be made.  Kenya is following suit, with some fees on mobile money transactions being waived during the pandemic, coupled with a surge in online shopping.  As a result, experts estimate that Kenya could become a cashless economy by 2033.

Ghana is also making important and progressive strides, driven by the government’s digitization agenda, which has seen the introduction of Mobile Money Interoperability (MMI), the launch of National Universal QR Code, and other payment systems projects in partnership with Banks, Telecos and Fintechs.  Just like Kenya, the waiver of some fees on mobile money transactions during the height of Covid-19 and the sustained incentives from some organisations, including Absa Bank, continues to encourage and promote digital payments.  In addition to higher daily transaction limits, Absa offers customers transfers from mobile money wallets to bank account at highly competitive rates ad free contactless payments, which save customers time and hassle while assuring their safety and security.

Overall, sector players are acknowledging the benefits of digital payments, noting that they are more convenient and safer for customers, and that they will inevitably reduce crime and fraud while promoting the inclusion of more people into formal financial services.  In addition to further increase in mobile and online transactions, indications are that we will see a notable shift to contactless payments, QR codes payments, and eventually even wearables.

 

Customers will want personalised digital journeys

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Think a personalised Netflix profile, but for banking!  Of course, personalised customer experiences in banking are far more complex as there are multiple factors and important regulations to consider; but they are entirely achievable.  Logging in should be a breeze and user interfaces should be intuitive and easy to navigate, complemented by specific product insights and recommendations.  Round the clock, expert support, whether it be live-chat or a click-to-call option will be non-negotiables.  Consequently, banks will need to come to the fore with reliable, secure and integrated digital technology systems in order to meet ever-evolving customer expectations.

Furthermore, it is pivotal that financial institutions view technology as an essential enabler, and that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are not only considered for internal processes, but also as an effective way to boost self-service options.  Chatbots are fast becoming the norm when it comes to automated client queries (such as Absa’s Abby on WhatsApp), while machine learning can deduce user intent and match digital products with specific needs.

 

Regulation and Resilience will be key

With new technology comes the requirement for appropriate regulation.  The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), for example, currently emphasises the ‘right to explanation’ if an AI algorithm deems a customer ineligible for a loan or financing.  Banks will need to understand legislative expectations around emerging innovations and be in a position to meet them.

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While there is still some regulatory ambiguity in some African countries, overall, policymakers have made noteworthy progress in implementing customer-centric frameworks that promote governance, support tighter lending requirements, and encourage financial inclusion and innovations.  Further to this, the rise in cyber-risk exposures as a result of increased digitisation, lends itself to an increased focus on building business resilience, as well as an increased need for specific cybersecurity legislation – particularly when it comes to data and privacy laws.  As this risk increases, policymakers are bound to take notice, with possible regional frameworks coming to the fore.

The banking sector as a whole is expected to be stable and healthy in order to kick-start economies and stimulate growth, especially post-pandemic.  To achieve this, banks will need to discard legacy infrastructure in favour of smarter, integrated and more resilient cloud-based platforms.  This will enable institutions to manage and access data quicker and bring products and solutions to market much faster.  Ultimately, digital banking should be viewed as a meaningful way to connect with customers across each stage of their life journeys.  What certainly won’t abate going forward, is customer centricity, and the desire to meet customers at their point of need.

 

By Ebo Richardson

Chief Enablement & Information Officer, Absa Bank Ghana

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Tertiary Level Agriculture Students Receive Laptops and Connectivity through AgriConnect

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Starting February 5, the AgriConnect team began delivering laptops to students at the University of Ghana, University of Cape Coast (UCC) and at KNUST (Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology). Currently, over 1,000 students have received their laptops and connectivity and thousands more will benefit in the coming months.


AgriConnect was developed through a partnership between theSOFTtribe and the Mastercard Foundation to focus on education and training to enable youth, including young women and persons with disabilities, who are interested in agriculture to benefit from new and emerging opportunities in the industry. 

Over 3,500 students from across the 10 participating institutions have already registered to be part of this new and innovative programme that has been designed to:
• Provide 10,000 students enrolled in agriculture and agriculture-related adjacent faculties with laptops and connectivity.
• Enable these students to participate in three supplementary courses – value chain development in Agriculture, Agribusiness and Entrepreneurship, and digital literacy – designed specifically for the programme to augment the existing curricula taught in academic institutions to better prepare students for entering the labour market and accessing meaningful and fulfilling work after graduation.
Chief Executive Officer of theSOFTtribe Limited, Mr. Tetteh Antonio says, “We are pleased with the enthusiasm and interest in AgriConnect – particularly by faculty and students of the 10 participating institutions – and we are driven to deliver on the stated objectives of this proof-of-concept phase of AgriConnnect so that this important project can be scaled up and provide opportunities to more schools and students. Our thrust is to incentivize youth to participate in agriculture, especially technology-driven agriculture towards building viable and sustainable long-term careers.”

In the next few weeks, the AgriConnect team will continue its roadshow at participating universities and engage with students to support them with the registration and payment processes and help them to navigate the bespoke learning platform that the supplemental courses are being offered on. Students that are participating in the programme have been asked to contribute 862 cedi – a small fraction of the cost for the laptops, which they are able to keep after the programme ends – and the connectivity, which they will receive for one year.


Students at the University of Ghana listen intently to presentations begin made by the AgriConnect team on the programme, its benefits to them, as well as the content that would be covered in the supplemental courses. This was held prior to the delivery of the laptops to students.

AgriConnect is aligned with and designed to advance the Government of Ghana’s thrust to create an enabling environment to make agriculture an attractive and profitable venture for Ghanaian youth, creating both employment and sustainable livelihoods for the expanding youth population. It is also aligned to several national policies including Ghana’s national economic plan, Ghana Vision 2020, and the National Youth Policy (2010). Under AgriConnect, the youth, including young women and persons with disabilities (PWDs), will be provided with devices to facilitate their access to digitally enhanced learning in agriculture and agriculture-adjacent sectors as a means of increasing their access to work opportunities and improving their livelihoods.


To learn more about AgriConnect, Website: www.agriconnectgh.com | Email: agriconnect@softtribe.com and visit www.agriconnectghana.com/frequently-asked-questions for frequently asked questions or follow us at:

Instagram: agriconnectgh
X: @agriconnectgh
Facebook: AgriConnectGH
LinkedIn: agriconnectgh
YouTube: https://youtube.com/@AgriConnect-hx2kz



The 10 Participating Institutions
1. Damongo Agricultural College
2. Ejura Agricultural College
3. Kwadaso Agricultural College
4. Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
5. Ohawu Agricultural College
6. Pong Agricultural College
7. University of Cape Coast School of Agriculture
8. University of Development Studies Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Consumer Sciences
9. University of Ghana School of Agriculture
10. Wenchi Agricultural College

About the Mastercard Foundation
The Mastercard Foundation is a registered Canadian charity and one of the largest foundations in the world. It works with visionary organizations to advance education and financial inclusion to enable young people in Africa and Indigenous youth in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work. Established in 2006 through the generosity of Mastercard when it became a public company, the Foundation is an independent organization separate from the company, with offices in Toronto, Kigali, Accra, Nairobi, Kampala, Lagos, Dakar, and Addis Ababa. Its policies, operations, and program decisions are determined by the Foundation’s Board of Directors and leadership.

For more information on the Foundation, please visit www.mastercardfdn.org.

About theSOFTtribe Limited
theSOFTtribe Limited is a Ghanaian-owned and locally based software development company and information technology (IT) solutions provider established in 1991 focusing on home-grown tropically tolerant IT solutions. Our IT solutions have been widely used by multinational corporations, civil society organizations (e.g. NGOs), academic institutions and government institutions across the West African sub-region.

For more information on theSOFTtribe Limited, please visit https://softtribe.com/

#AgriConnect #youthinagriculture #thesofttribe #mastercardfoundation #digitalizationofagriculture #ghanaagriculture #pwdopportunities #ghanaeducation #digitalagriculture

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“IN THE CHEST OF A WOMAN” TO SHOW AT THE NATIONAL THEATRE, ACCRA, FEATURING SPECIAL MOTHER’S DAY EXHIBITION

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Africa Arts Network is proud to announce the comeback of “In the Chest of a Woman,” a captivating stage play written by the renowned playwright Efo Kodjo Mawugbe and directed by Ken Fiati. This anticipated production will take centre stage at the National Theatre in Accra on May 3rd and 4th, 2024, with performances at 4:00 PM and 8:00 PM each day.

 

“In the Chest of a Woman” tells the compelling story of a courageous woman who challenges societal norms by disguising her daughter as a boy, aiming to secure the throne for her to become the empire’s king – a secret she must protect at all costs. Set against the backdrop of Ghanaian society, the play delves into themes of women empowerment, gender roles, and family inheritance rights, providing audiences with a thought-provoking exploration of cultural and social dynamics.

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Featuring a stellar cast including Akofa Edjeani, Clemento Suarez, Jeneral Ntatea, Edinam Atatsi, Henry Agbai, Emmanuel Ato Ghartey, and more, “In the Chest of a Woman” promises to deliver powerful performances that resonate with audiences long after the final curtain falls.

 

In addition to the stage production, audiences will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a special pre-Mother’s Day exhibition curated by the renowned filmmaker Mr. Kwaw Ansah and the Bisa Aberwa Museum. This exhibition will showcase rich artefacts and collections celebrating womanhood, offering a unique complement to the themes explored in the play.

 

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“The Africa Arts Network is thrilled to present ‘In the Chest of a Woman’ to audiences in Accra,” said Kofi Adinkra, founder of Africa Arts Network and producer of the play. “This production represents a culmination of our commitment to fostering collaboration, innovation, and cultural exchange to promote the African experience globally. We invite theatregoers to join us for an unforgettable experience that celebrates the strength, resilience, and complexity of womanhood.”

 

Tickets for “In the Chest of a Woman” are available for purchase online on egoticket.com now or at the National Theatre box office on the days of the performances. For more information and updates, follow Africa Arts Network on social media or contact africaartnetwork@gmail.com.

 

Don’t miss this opportunity to witness a legendary live theatrical masterpiece and a celebration of the power of womanhood with “In the Chest of a Woman.”

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School Children to be Educated on Renewable Energy Technologies

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Representatives of Vivo Energy Ghana United Way Ghana and Benficiary Schools at the signing ceremony

In line with its sustainability efforts towards the environment, Vivo Energy Ghana, the Shell Licensee is excited to announce a significant partnership with the United Way Ghana, a non-governmental organisation to launch a renewable energy project among schools within its communities.

The renewable energy project seeks to empower and provide students with a solid understanding of various renewable energy sources, including solar energy. By introducing innovative educational programmes and practical demonstrations, the initiative aims to inspire the next generation to embrace sustainable energy solutions and raise awareness about environmental challenges and the importance of adopting sustainable energy practices within the school and the broader community.

Working closely with the Educational Director, Ghana Education Service of the La Dade-Kotopon Municipal Assembly, the Vivo Energy Ghana renewable energy project for school children will feature a series of interactive workshops, educational tours, development of educational materials and hands-on activities designed to engage students in learning about solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources. Through experiential learning opportunities, participants will gain deeper understanding of the environmental benefits and practical applications of renewable energy technologies.

The signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) commit both organisations to instil in the school children a sense of responsibility towards the environment and prepare them for future careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). 

“Partnering with the United Way Ghana on this renewable energy project underscores our commitment to environmental sustainability and community empowerment,” says Kader Maiga, Managing Director of Vivo Energy Ghana. “Together, we aim to instil a sense of environmental responsibility in young learners and equip them with the knowledge and skills needed to build a greener future,” he added.

United Way Ghana shares the vision of promoting sustainable development and recognises this partnership as an important step towards achieving that goal. “Following the successful roll-out of Cyclean in the La Enobal Basic School, we are excited to enter into another partnership with Vivo Energy Ghana to introduce school children to renewable energy. By investing in the education and engagement of young learners, we can create a ripple effect of positive change across communities and drive the transition towards renewable energy,” says Faustina Abbey, Acting Executive Director of United Way Ghana.

As part of the partnership, Vivo Energy Ghana and the United Way Ghana will also work closely with local schools within their area of operation, community centers, and educational institutions to ensure broader participation and impact. 

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Eff The DJ – The Pulse of the Ghanaian Nightlife and Beyond

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A huge understatement and slightly overlooked part of December In Ghana and it’s popularity is the constant rotation of music in Accra’s hotspots. Ghanaian DJs are the lifeblood of countless parties, delivering electrifying and unforgettable performances. (more…)

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The African Development Fund commits $12 million to the rapid operationalization of the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation in Rwanda

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The Board of Directors of the African Development Fund approved, in Abidjan on 27 February 2024, $11.96 million Grant to speed up the establishment of the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation, headquartered in Kigali, Rwanda.

The financial support from the African Development Bank Group’s Regional Public Good window, together with a contribution of $1.93 million from the Rwandan government, is intended to implement the Regional Pharmaceutical Sector Support Project in Rwanda.

“The project should produce considerable benefits (outputs and outcomes) throughout Africa,” stated Aissa Touré Sarr, head of the African Development Bank’s Rwanda country office. “The leading-edge research and technological innovations of the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation should improve health care outcomes by providing access to advanced medicines and treatments, tackling prevalent diseases and contributing to the continent’s overall health resilience.”

The support from the African Development Fund should help improve access to advanced pharmaceutical technologies and strengthen the regulatory framework of the pharmaceutical industry in Africa.

The African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation, whose creation was approved in June 2022 by the African Development Bank Board of Directors, signed a host country agreement in December 2023, with the government of Rwanda, where it is based.

Given the difficulties that African countries face in accessing technology to manufacture medicines and vaccines in their own countries, this foundation will act as a transparent intermediary that promote and negotiate with pharmaceutical multinationals and other countries in the South on sharing technology, know-how, and patents protected by intellectual property rights.

The foundation will build the capacity of African pharmaceuticals so that they commit to increasing local production as part of a systematic approach to learning new technologies and bringing production plants up to standard technologically. It will strengthen human and professional competences in the sector and in the R&D ecosystem, as well as in pharmaceutical and vaccine innovation to develop the skills needed for a thriving sector on the continent.

The African Development Fund grant will be used to purchase office equipment — furniture, hardware and software — and to enable the Foundation, to which the Rwandan government granted the status of an international agency, to recruit experts and relevant specialized technical firms to provide a range of specialist health and pharmaceutical services. In addition to administrative and human resources, some experts will be responsible for establishing financial and contract award systems.

The project will also support information and awareness raising, consultancy services, training manufacturers in good manufacturing processes, and study trips for tacit knowledge transfer. It will also improve the quality and safety of pharmaceutical products, accelerate the implementation of a regional mutual recognition system, in line with harmonizing the regulations on medicine in the East African Community. It will therefore support several activities, including joint evaluations of medical product documentation, joint inspections of good manufacturing practices, signal detection and investigations of medical products, as well as post-marketing surveillance activities of antibiotics.

The African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation will collaborate closely with the African Union Medicines Agency, Africa CDC, the European Union, the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, the Medicines Patent Pool, philanthropic organizations and bilateral and multilateral agencies and institutions.

The first institution of its kind to collaborate with the public and private sectors in Africa, North America, Europe and the rest of the developing world, the foundation has agreed a memorandum of understanding with the European Investment Bank. In addition, it receives substantial support from Germany.

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Pizzaman Chickenman Renews Brand Ambassadorial Deal with AMG DEUCES

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CEQA Food and Beverages, operators of  Pizzaman-Chickenman, the largest fast-food brand, has renewed its brand ambassadorial partnership with AMG DEUCES.

 

The renewal ceremony, which took place on Friday, March 1st, 2024, marks the continuation of a successful partnership between Pizzaman Chickenman and AMG DEUCES, who has been the face of the brand since 2023. The deal will see the influencer continue to represent the brand and endorse its products across various platforms.

 

Via a social media post, David Deuces expressed his excitement prior to the continuation of the partnership, saying, “I’m happy to announce Pizzaman Chickenman extended my ambassadorial deal contract to 1 year straight & … hard work indeed pays off. Thank you to my CEO Christian Boakye Yiadom, Head, Marketing & Branding, Nii Antiye Amoo Quaye, and the entire management of CEQA Food and Beverage for believing in me and appreciating my hard work.”

 

The partnership renewal comes at a time when Pizzaman Chickenman is looking to expand its outlets to other regions in Ghana and beyond. With AMG DEUCES’ partnership, the brand hopes to reach more customers and strengthen its position as the largest fast-food chain in the country.”

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