Digital innovation in Sub-Saharan Africa is being driven by the explosion in mobile phone usage, enabling African consumers to leapfrog existing business models and technologies, according to a research by the Ecobank Group.
The 2017 version of Ecobank Research’s Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities (FICC) Guidebook, provides expert knowledge and analysis on African markets for investors and businesses.
Indicating a positive outlook for the continent, three key trends are forecast to take hold during the next 12 months.
Rebounding economy after a trying year
The first indicates an economic rebound in sub Saharan Africa driven by a recovery in the region’s economic heavyweights, Nigeria and South Africa, and ongoing growth in the top performers, Ethiopia, Côte d’Ivoire and (more recently) Ghana.
Growth will be driven by a rise in oil production (notably in Ghana, Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Angola), strengthening infrastructure investment across West and East Africa, and improved weather conditions which bode well for crops.
Strengthening economic activity, plus a moderate improvement in oil and mineral prices, will help narrow the current account deficit, but pressure on SSA currencies will remain.
Gas, West Africa’s new oil
The second emerging trend points to West Africa’s gas sector becoming a hive of activity in 2018 from Senegal to Angola, with the development of gas pipelines, floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) platforms and major gas field projects.
Governments in the Gulf of Guinea and across West Africa have ramped up efforts to secure gas supply in order to boost domestic power generation and diversify their revenues away from crude oil.
Deregulating the gas market and allowing market-driven gas prices will be key to unlocking further gas infrastructure investment across the region.
Africa’s evolving role in FinTech leadership
The third trend suggests fintech innovation in Africa picking up speed in 2018 buoyed by a new generation of Africans who are ‘digital natives’.
The proliferation of tech hubs across Africa (notably in South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire) will nurture the next wave of African start-ups and help connect them with investors.
Digital innovation in SSA is being driven by the explosion in mobile phone usage, enabling African consumers to leapfrog existing business models and technologies.
African Fintech firms are increasingly driving this innovation, deploying digital tools to build credit profiles for the previously ‘unbankable’, providing electricity to rural households that were previously off the grid, even using artificial intelligence to diagnose health problems remotely.
Head of Ecobank Group Research, Edward George, said: “The digital world moves apace, and so must we. The AfricaFICC website is a key way that we can deliver our regional market analysis and expert local knowledge of 41 African markets – which is often hard to access – to a much wider audience.”
“We think these three trends are strong evidence that Africa has weathered the storms of late and is very much on track for improved growth in 2018,” he said.
The Ecobank Research Centre is dedicated to providing the highest quality research for clients to help them navigate the complex African marketplace.
Areas covered include; Economics, Banking and Financial services, Oil, Gas & Power, Soft Commodities, Trade and Digital Innovation.
A team of seasoned analysts based across Ecobank’s 36-country footprint is able to draw upon on extensive local knowledge to provide insights for clients and identify investment opportunities.
The insights focus on Middle Africa – the region between North Africa and the Rand Zone, which has the richest potential for growth but is poorly understood.
Ecobank Research provides regular market updates, briefing notes and detailed studies on the region’s macroeconomics, currencies, fixed income, equities, commodities, trade and digital innovation.
Ecobank is the leading independent pan-African banking group. It currently has a presence in 36 African countries.
The Group employs over 20,000 people in 40 different countries in over 1,200 branches and offices.
Ecobank is a full-service bank providing wholesale, retail, investment and transaction banking services and products to governments, financial institutions, multinationals, international organizations, medium, small and micro businesses and individuals.