The Mahatma Ghandi International Conference Center in Niamey hosted, on Saturday, October 22, the official launch of the 1time edition of the Start-ups and Fintechs Challenge competition. The objective of this competition is to stimulate and support business creators to develop applications and services geared towards digital financial inclusion. It was the Minister of Finance, Mr. Ahmat Jidoud, who chaired the launch of this competition, in the presence of the Representative of the World Bank, Mrs. Aissatou Dicko, the Director General of the National Agency for the Society of Information (ANSI), Mr. Ibrahim Guimba, the Coordinator of the Smart Villages Project (PVI), Mr. Abdou Kané and several representatives of the national financial sector.
This initiative of the National Agency for the Information Society through its Smart Villages Project component entirely financed by the World Bank, puts in competition the business plans of national and international start-ups and fintechs, thus encouraging the creation new digital financial products contributing to financial inclusion in Niger. This competition is open to three categories of candidates, namely star-tups or fintechs in the start-up stage, startups or fintechs in the development phase and start-ups and/or mature fintechs. It is an envelope of 100 million US dollars that the World Bank has disbursed to support this competition. The State of Niger participates in it through total exemption from value added tax (VAT), as well as through import and registration duties and taxes.
Proceeding with the launch of the activity, the Minister of Finance indicated that this initiative is in harmony with the Program of the Renaissance Act III. Thus, according to Minister Jidoud, Axis 5 of the DPG provides for the development of economic infrastructure, in particular through the digital opening up of administrative villages in Niger, the promotion of the use of e-services in urban and rural areas for boosting financial inclusion, creating an environment conducive to the local development of digital content and supporting local start-ups”. “The use of new technologies, in particular Big Data, artificial intelligence, Blockchain or biometrics, have a very positive impact on the popularization of science and technology, without which no development is possible today”, he indicated. The Minister of Finance added that Niger is resolutely determined to put in place the institutional framework to raise the level of financial inclusion. “This is how the Executive Secretariat of the SNFI was set up, with the ambition of achieving a financial inclusion rate of 38% by the end of 2023 against 23% in 2016”, recalled Mr. Jidoud. . To achieve this, he believes, digital technologies, namely Mobile Money, e-commerce, electronic wallets and all applications developed by fintech must be implemented.
For the Representative of the World Bank, sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing a significant increase in the use of financial services, which is 55.1% in 2022 against 42.6% in 2021. “These figures are even higher in the area WAEMU where in 2022, more than 65% of the population of countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali, Benin, Senegal, and Côte d’Ivoire have access to financial services”, noted Aissatou Ms. Dicko. She recalled that between 2020 and 2021, Africa has witnessed a strong emergence of fintechs and that the firm McKinsey estimated, in 2021, at around 2,600 the total number of Start-ups and FinTech companies offering digital financial products. in Africa. However, she underlines, the development of Fintechs is still very timid in Niger. “The adoption of mobile money also remains very low despite the efforts made by the Government. Indeed, less than 9% of the adult population of Niger has a mobile money account,” she said.
Ms. Dicko added that the digital financial inclusion of Nigerien populations is an important challenge that the Government, with the support of the World Bank, is trying to curb through the Smart Villages Project for Rural Growth and Financial Inclusion. “In addition to the development of new digital financial products for women, farmers and young people, this project, structuring for the digital economy in Niger, will eventually make it possible to extend broadband internet coverage to at least 2,175 rural localities in Niger, home to nearly 2 million people, but also to boost the digital finance ecosystem, develop digital payments and digital finance,” she said.
For the PVI Coordinator, Abdou Kané, this competition, which will have a wide international echo, represents an opportunity for national fintch players because it allows them to improve their technical skills by collaborating with the leaders of the sector. Note that from the launch of the said competition, candidates have until November 21, 2022 to submit their applications, while the grant award will take place in December 2022.
Mahamadou Diallo (onep)
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1time edition of the Start-ups and Fintechs Challenge competition: An envelope of 100 million US dollars to support digital financial projects
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