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Tuesday, August 07, 2018, 10:35
UN, Ant Financial partner to push financial inclusion in Africa
By Xinhua
Tuesday, August 07, 2018, 10:35 By Xinhua

This handout photograph taken and released on Dec 15, 2017, by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) shows International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde (left) and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa Vera Songwe (right) having a local coffee after meeting with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) leadership in Addis Ababa. (STEPHEN JAFFE / INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND / AFP)

ADDIS ABABA - The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on Monday revealed partnership with Chinese digital financial giant Ant Financial to promote financial inclusion in the continent. 

We are bringing Ant Financial, which has the largest platform for financial inclusion and assists people with very small financial capacity to be involved in the society

Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa

ECA Executive Secretary Vera Songwe, who stressed the importance of digital financial inclusion platforms for Africa's development, has underscored the positive prospects of partnering with Ant Financial - an affiliate of the Alibaba Group - mainly in the digital financial arena, the ECA revealed on Monday. 

"We are bringing Ant Financial, which has the largest platform for financial inclusion and assists people with very small financial capacity to be involved in the society," ECA's statement quoted Songwe as saying. 

"So we are thinking about what platforms we can put together to ensure that not only big companies take advantage of the AFCTA (Africa Continental Free Trade Area) but also small companies," she said. 

"Essentially, we were talking about information technology and the power of IT for financial, social and political inclusion," she added. 

The executive secretary further noted that digital financial inclusion platforms could help Africa realize the global sustainable development goals (SDGs) as well as the continental Agenda 2063, the ECA said on Monday. 

"Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063 say we should leave no one behind, and many people have been asking what happens to SMEs with the AFCFTA," Songwe said. 

Noting that Ant Financial runs one of the world's largest online payment platforms, valued at US$150 billion, Songwe also underscored that Africa has an "opportunity to leapfrog technology for social, financial and political inclusion" by working with the Chinese giant. 

ALSO READ: China's Ant Financial raises US$14b to bolster global push

Ant Financial CEO Jing Xiandong said that his company serves over 650 million people daily and the company's reach has involved over the years. 

"We have expanded well beyond China and are recording tremendous success in our effort to bridge the gap between the reach and the poor in many other countries such as India, the Philippines and more," Jing said. 

Jing further said that he would like to replicate his company's success in Africa so that financial inclusion can be enhanced in the continent. 

According to the ECA, the delegations from Ant Financial also met with senior officials of the ECA, in which they "expressed their willingness to collaborate with the Commission to foster inclusive growth on the continent." 

Songwe further highlighted the importance of digital IDs, noting that "we have many displaced people and refugees on the continent without proper official identity. We know that without an identity you are not a complete citizen and life can be challenging." 

"So we are trying to see how we can go from getting identities to getting financial and social inclusion particularly for youth and women," she said. 

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