Ideas & Updates

UNECA and Better Than Cash Alliance have partnered to launch pan-African peer exchange series on responsible digital payments

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the Better Than Cash Alliance have partnered to launch a pan-African peer exchange series: “Digitizing Government Payments Amid COVID-19”, which launched on April 29th and will run for the few four months.

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital payments in Africa. As such is an increased demand, for expertise on the digitization of payments by African governments to respond to the social and economic consequences of the health crisis.

These new series of virtual roundtables are designed to deep-dive into responsible digitization of payments through experience sharing and learning amongst peers from across Africa including 13 members of the Better Than Cash Alliance. The objectives are 1. To learn from Alliance members and other African countries on measures taken to digitize national payments such as government to citizen payments, citizen to government payments including tax and local government fees etc. 2. Assess the opportunities and challenges of building robust digital systems in country/continent. 3. Drive adoption of Responsible Digital Payments and High-Level Principles in digitization initiatives. 4. Develop collaborative opportunities to move regional/continental digitization of economies to simplify and grow country/continental resource mobilization.

The launch of the Pan- African peer exchange series featured Hon. Minister Richard Tusabe, Rwandan Minister of State in Charge of National Treasury and Hon. Minister Cina Lawson, Togolese Minister of Digital Economy and Digital Transformation.

Hon. Minister Richard Tusabe shared Rwanda’s experience in the journey to digitize payments. To encourage savings, the government of Rwanda introduced the Eja Heza long term savings program, which runs on USSD thus not needing internet and inclusive, and allows citizens, especially informal sector earners to save money in real time that shall allow them to retire with dignity.

Hon. Minister Cina Lawson, also shared the Togolese experience of digitalization with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic. Digitization of payments helped her country make emergency cash transfers to thousands of citizens suffering the most as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic in what is known today as the Novissi Program.

Also featuring during the peer exchange was Dr. Vera Songwe, Under-Secretary General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa.

You can listen here:

Digitization of payments is the surest path out of the current pandemic. The future of Africa does not depend on how much cash we hold in our hands but how much cash we hold virtually. The future is the digitization of payments. The journey has just begun.