Key enablers for trade and business across the African continent

James Scott Author

James Scott

Head Digital and Platform Services


The digitisation of supply chains and payment methods are key to facilitating trade across Africa.

The role of digital solutions in improving supply chains and payment methods is increasingly becoming an important enabler for trade and business across the African continent.

The shifts seen in the underlying technologies like mobile and block chain are providing banks, MNO’s, start-ups as well as other participants in the supply chain with opportunities for innovation.

These supply chains are still largely dominated by cash, which introduces noteworthy risk, cost and friction to these supply chains.

Mobile money and its significant growth on the continent has become a key enabler in where these innovations will come from.

Large companies leveraging data to model risk and understand participants in their supply chains better are improving terms offered to small - medium size companies and therefore driving growth in trade and the development of these businesses.

The fast-moving consumer goods sector is a great example of one of the biggest beneficiaries of digitisation of supply chain solutions in Africa.

Large companies dealing with the SME/informal sector are beginning to have a greater appreciation of how to trade with this sector.

We are also noticing that digitisation of supply chains is benefitting small importers and traders who have in the past used informal and sometimes rudimentary payment methods; with some travelling with huge amounts of cash to pay for goods.

Now, thanks to digital payment methods, it is possible to place and make a payment for an order, predict the time the goods will be supplied, and be ready to be sold into the market.

The role of banks in enabling cross-border trade

The role of banks is therefore becoming increasingly important in this process. At CIB, we are partnering with our clients to understand their needs and challenges and then work together to develop solutions which can work for them.

Rather than us coming up with our own solutions, we first study and understand our clients’ businesses, then partner with them to develop and implement digital solutions which solve or improve their supply chain and payment needs.

There are many start-ups looking to solve components of these supply chains and bringing together the speed and agility of a start-up with the scale, trust and core capabilities of the bank, will help mature the solutions in this space.

In many cases, we are finding that the solutions are market- and country-dependent and this is largely because what may work in one market/region may not be relevant or even applicable in another. For example, Kenya has a fairly mature digital eco-system compared with other countries in East and West Africa.

Leveraging local expertise

CIB’s on-the-ground presence in the countries that we operate in also provides us with unique insights into the nuances of each market, which helps us to develop bespoke solutions that work for clients in these countries.

We have found that a lot of companies are looking for solutions and want to work with a trusted partner, which could either be a bank like CIB or a telco depending on their needs. We are therefore excited to use our digital expertise and insights to co-create solutions with, and for our clients based on what they want to solve.

James Scott Author
James Scott

Head Digital and Platform Services

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