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Africa Regional Partner
Over 300 people came to this year’s Euromoney East Africa Conference, which was held in Nairobi on 10 April. The choice to return to Kenya as a country to host this conference reaffirmed its global reputation of embracing innovative and disruptive technology as a tool for financial inclusion. Our plan was to bring together key players in the fintech space – governments, regulators, banks, payment providers and innovators – in one room, to give a strategic overview of how fintech and innovation are driving a fundamental reshaping of the financial services industry.
View the full conference photo-album here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskzXp8rA
The conference opened with a keynote address from Hon John Rwangombwa, Governor of National Bank of Rwanda, who reiterated the central bank’s openness to fintech and its usefulness in helping financial systems to be more resilient. Fintech has shaped our thinking towards moving to a cashless economy, he said. It creates opportunities and boosts economic activity, but it does not need to be complex. Home grown solutions often give the best results, he added.
This was followed by an interview with Governor Patrick Njoroge of Central Bank of Kenya, much of which focused on the issue of trust and data privacy in digital financial services. Laws often come after the damage has been done, he noted. Central Bank of Kenya is open to innovation but the Governor warned against any breaches of data privacy – the consumer needs to be in the driving seat, he explained.
Mahmoud Mohieldin, Senior Vice President of the World Bank Group concluded the morning’s keynote sessions by answering questions on the World Bank’s East Africa portfolio. He focused on financial inclusion statistics and the three ‘gaps’: gender; age; and rural.
The conference then welcomed panellists from the European Investment Bank, I&M Bank, FSD Kenya and Oracle to discuss how technology is changing the way the financial system works and what regulators should be doing to encourage and manage financial and fintech innovation.
KCB Group Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Joshua Oigara, also took part in a keynote interview, followed by a special session on blockchain and digital currencies with Evgeni Mitkov, Chief Operating Officer of Everex, and Houman Haddad of the UN World Food Programme.
The afternoon continued with an introductory keynote address to the payments panel from Central Bank of Kenya Deputy Governor Sheila M’Mbijjewe, who highlighted the Bank’s priorities for 2018 to 2020. We are not innovators, she said, so we can’t move ahead but instead, should move alongside the country’s innovators. We should support and facilitate, but also follow rules. Whatever Kenya is doing needs to be first class and match what is happening globally, she concluded.
Speakers on the alternative financing session highlighted that from a regulatory perspective, we should not be suffocating an industry before it has had the chance to shine. There is real, global opportunity there, they said.
The day came to a close with an interesting panel on investing in start-ups and driving entrepreneurship with speakers from Village Capital, Well Told Story, SevenSeas Technologies Group, Endeavor Kenya and mSurvey all sharing their own stories. Mentorship is key, they highlighted. Innovation requires empathy. Solutions to problems should not be niche. This was followed by a lively closing interview with Professor Bitange Ndemo, Chairman of the Taskforce on Distributed Ledgers and Artificial Intelligence, ending the day on a very humorous note.
Euromoney would like to thank all our sponsors, speakers and delegates, without whom the event would not have been possible. We look forward to welcoming you all to the event again in 2019. For those of you who missed it, make sure to register early next year!
For sponsorship enquiries for 2019, please contact Odeta Konomi on firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0) 20 7779 8821.
For speaking enquiries for 2019, please contact Sara Leech on email@example.com or +44 (0) 20 7779 8819.