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Mastercard Ramps Up Digital Transformation in Africa

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Vusi Melane
Vusi Melane
Staff Writer

Mastercard and the African Development Bank Group have launched the Mobilizing Access to the Digital Economy- MADE Alliance: Africa to expand digital access to essential services for 100 million individuals and businesses in Africa over the next decade. The announcement was made on the sidelines of the U.S.-Africa Business Forum hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Agricultural sector and women

The Alliance will initially prioritize support for the agricultural sector and women. Among its initial efforts will be a pilot program launching this year to assist three million farmers in Kenya, Tanzania, and Nigeria by collaborating with local banks to offer digital identities and access to high-quality seeds and agricultural inputs. The Alliance plans to expand to Uganda, Ethiopia, Ghana, and other parts of the continent.

100 million people

CEO for Mastercard, Michael Miebach, says “Mastercard’s work leading the new MADE Alliance: Africa aims to provide 100 million people greater digital access to critical services. Across Africa, people are driving new growth and opportunity, and Mastercard wants to support their success. This Alliance builds on the innovations and investments we are already making with partners in 45 countries to enhance Africa’s digital infrastructure and accelerate inclusive growth.”

As co-chairs, the African Development Bank Group will invest $300 million to support Alliance programs, providing funding for digital infrastructure and incentivizing ecosystem actors to enhance digital access. Mastercard, on the other hand, aims to register 15 million users in Africa onto its Community Pass platform within five years, with interoperable digital infrastructure facilitating involvement from various ecosystem participants. Community Pass, launched in 2020, is a Mastercard social enterprise that digitizes and connects remote, underserved communities to governments, NGOs, and the private sector for access to critical services.

Adoption of agricultural technologies

President for African Development Group, Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, says “The African Development Bank Group believes that digitalization via Mastercard Community Pass can play a vital role in increasing the adoption of agricultural technologies to help feed Africa, as well as improve incomes of millions of African smallholder farmers. Joining the Mobilizing Access to the Digital Economy Alliance: Africa will amplify and multiply the impact of the Bank’s investments to build sustainable, climate-smart food systems across the continent. We applaud U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris’ commitment to financial and digital inclusion in Africa.”

To facilitate broader participation in the digital economy, a collaboration between public and private sector partners is indispensable. The Alliance strategically aligns partners’ complementary strengths in key regions to foster sustainable digital access. Collectively, the partners will provide connectivity, training, employment opportunities, and digital access to financial and other essential services.

Commitment from various organisations

At its launch, the MADE Alliance: Africa has garnered commitment from over half a dozen organizations, including Equity Bank, Microsoft, Heifer International,, and the Syngenta Foundation. The African Development Bank Group and Mastercard will initially co-chair the initiative.

The endeavors of the MADE Alliance: Africa will bolster the U.S. Digital Transformation with Africa Initiative- DTA and the African Union’s Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa- DTS. Additionally, they align with other business objectives announced this year, focusing on Africa. Including:

  • A memorandum of agreement with the International Trade Administration, a bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce, to advance digital access and inclusion in Africa based on a mutual interest to support the aims of the U.S. Government’s Digital Transformation with Africa initiative and MADE Alliance: Africa. This collaboration builds on Mastercard hosting U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo during AmCham in Nairobi in April for a “Digital Showcase” on best practices and lessons learned for building and scaling digital solutions across the continent of Africa.
  • EdTech Africa, a new partnership between the Government of Kenya, Kenyan President Ruto and the U.S., which builds on Mastercard’s existing multi-million-dollar investments with the Atlanta University Consortium– AUC Data Science Initiative and Howard University’s Center for Applied Data Science & Analytics Initiative. This effort cultivates educational exchanges between Historically Black Colleges and Universities-HBCUs and African scholars in the ever-evolving landscape of emerging technology and is an example of innovation, talent empowerment and cross-cultural connectivity across the African diaspora, poised to drive forward education and technology for young leaders of Africa and America.
  • A new partnership involving Mastercard Community Pass, the Co-operative Bank of Kenya, the Shell Foundation, and the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office that gives smallholder farmers access to a digital marketplace and enables affordable credit to buy clean energy tools that support farmers’ incomes, such as solar-powered irrigation pumps. First announced in January, the effort aligns to Mastercard’s involvement with two USAID initiatives: the President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience- PREPARE and the Women in the Digital Economy Fund- WiDEF.

Uniting leaders from both the public and private sectors will facilitate the creation and improvement of accessible, affordable, and trusted technology and digital tools that can be scaled, thereby enabling greater participation in the digital economy.

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