Building capacity to help Africa trade better

Africa needs investment not aid, says Equity boss


Africa needs investment not aid, says Equity boss

Equity Bank Group Managing Director James Mwangi has advised developed nations and partners to consider partnering with African states on investment projects in place of development aid.

Speaking in London, at the weekend, when he addressed delegates during the 13th London Business School Africa Business Summit, Mwangi stressed that sub Saharan Africa is now ripe for investment based partnerships which are more sustainable than aid based credit facilities and grants.

The Equity Bank boss who was one of the keynote speakers addressing the summit theme: ‘Beyond the Hype: The Not-for-Tourists Guide to Investing in Africa’, presented the case for financial education to boost financial literacy as one of the key development agendas.

“In Africa, we do not need aid; let us develop Africa as we have developed other economies through sustainable and innovative investment programmes not aid.”

He expressed regret that despite pumping billions of dollars in aid for sub Saharan countries, the average human development index for the region is still “worrisomely” low with poor education enrolment and achievement.

Though recognized as a contemporary development enabler, banking services and financial inclusion in sub Saharan Africa, Mwangi said is still a challenge with less than 12pc penetration rates.

“Education distributes opportunities more equitably and I am glad that with free compulsory primary education, Kenya, is leading the way. Alongside education, we need to enhance the capacity of most Africans to be financially literate,” he said.

Adding that: “You cannot introduce finance to a population that has never been part of a commercial world.”

To address the banking challenge, Mwangi reiterated that financial inclusion in the region requires innovative solutions beyond the traditional brick and mortar model.

Presenting the Equity Bank example, Mwangi explained that the bank had managed to roll out a robust agency-banking model, which now counts more than 10,000 agents countrywide providing banking services in kiosks, hardware stores, supermarkets and other unconventional outlets.

“To address the issue of banking services provision in the conventional banking halls, Equity Bank has been rolling out an agency and mobile based banking system to enable us reach the population cost effectively and conveniently,” Mwangi affirmed.

Now in its 13th year, the Africa Business Summit is firmly established as a leading forum in Europe for engaged discussion on doing business in Africa. The Summit brings together 300 delegates with an active interest in Africa, providing an excellent opportunity to network with like-minded professionals, including alumni and students of London Business School.

The 2014 Summit, last weekend was staged against a backdrop of hot-button issues, from the rebasing of the Nigerian economy (now Africa’s largest) to the infrastructure crisis, the acute demand for power to support growth, ensuring that growth is more inclusive, facilitating access to capital for entrepreneurs, an accelerating pace of innovation in technology and telecoms, a burgeoning middle class, a call for accountable leadership, regional integration, and achieving better health and education outcomes.


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