During a roundtable meeting with Mastercard in the capital of Zambia, Lusaka, US Vice President Kamala Harris called on leaders in the public and private sectors to fund national financial inclusion strategies in order to bridge the continent’s digital divide.
Just 33% of people in Africa are believed to use the internet, while only 55% of people in Sub-Saharan Africa have formal identification documents. As a result, the remaining population is not benefiting from digital transformation.
Mastercard emphasized partnerships as being at the core of its Africa strategy and asked for a reassessment of current ways to closing the digital divide in Africa.
It brought to light how technology and innovation can open up the digital economy to everyone, enabling service delivery across a range of industries and spurring economic expansion.
Mastercard is expanding beyond its core business of connecting people and businesses to payments by developing new businesses that enable not just financial inclusion but also digital inclusion. This expansion is supported by its commitment to globally connect 1 billion people to the digital economy by 2025.
The example given by Mark Elliott, Mastercard’s Division President for Sub-Saharan Africa, was Community Pass, a digital platform created to address infrastructure issues that crop up when rural communities are being digitally transformed. These issues include unstable connectivity, a low rate of smartphone ownership, and a lack of uniform identification or credentials.
By providing digital identities and a digital acceptance network, we are committed to registering 30 million users of our Community Pass platform by the year 2027, with a particular focus on registering 15 million users in Africa, including women in underserved and remote communities. This will increase their access to digital commerce, agricultural markets, healthcare services, and humanitarian benefits. To date, we have made it possible for 2.4 million people in Africa, the majority of whom are smallholder farmers, to engage in the digital economy, according to Elliott.
Community Pass gives users a usable digital ID and digitizes their daily activities so that they are accessible to a wide range of service providers. For instance, smallholder farmers might use Community Pass to gain access to a larger customer base, high-quality inputs, and loans to expand their operations. Organizations from the public and corporate sectors use Community Pass all throughout Africa to pay farmers more quickly.
Community Pass was also included earlier this week in a fact sheet released by Vice President Harris on international programs aimed at empowering women economically:
Fact Sheet: Vice President Harris Announces Over $1 Billion in Global Programs for Women’s Economic Empowerment.