Over 91% of consumer expenditure in Africa is by cash – Mamadou Biteye

Mamadou Biteye – Executive Secretary, ACBF

Africa’s 1.3 billion population is a big enough market for the continent’s economy with a combined Gross Domestic Product estimated at $3.4 trillion, and digitization has been identified as an important tool to harness that potential for trade and growth.

Speaking in this first part of an exclusive interview with Ghana Business News in Accra, Ghana, soon after taking office, the newly appointed Executive Secretary of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) Mamadou Biteye says digitization is the way to go for Africa.

“Today in Africa you have over half a billion people excluded from formal finance (I don’t like using un-banked, because financial services are not accessed only through banks). And if you look at the personal consumer expenditure in Africa, it is about $1 trillion a year – 91 per cent of that is cash and that creates a lot of impediments for trade and other sectors, so digitization is the way,” he says.

Digitization, not just electronic payments, but processes overall, whether it’s government services or movement of money or other types of processes, is a significant gain in terms of efficiency, he adds.

Mr Biteye pointed out that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has seen an acceleration of digitization.

“Three years’ worth of digitization happened within a year. It is an accelerated path of digitization around the world. Those businesses that were already digitized and were able to accept payments electronically, were actually those who were able to withstand the crisis and thrived, and those who didn’t have electronic payment capabilities or didn’t have digital skills among their staff were the ones who were hardest hit,” he said.

If you look at the personal consumer expenditure in Africa, it is about $1 trillion a year – 91 per cent of that is cash.

Citing a World Economic Forum study last year, he said given the prospects of world trade and commerce over the last 10 years 70 per cent of wealth created will be through digital platforms.

“So if we want Africans and African businesses to access and be part of that wealth creation, they have to have access to digital means and be part of digital commerce,” he says, adding, “I think that it is an imperative and that will be a good stepping stone for Africa’s continued growth.”

“I am an African enthusiast. A believer that Africa working with her sons and daughters can be in control of her destiny,” he says.

The second part of this interview will be published tomorrow.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi
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