The “Africa rising” story of the past decade, fueled by 5 percent average annual growth, is in danger of faltering. To change the narrative, and — more importantly — the reality it describes, African policymakers must urgently answer these six questions.
If Africa’s smallholder farmers are going to lift themselves out of poverty, they need access to formal financial services instead of the unstable, inflexible, informal arrangements that they currently rely on and that keep them poor. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Janeen Madan review the ways in which digital technology is changing how financial services are delivered and made affordable. With the right investments and policies, farmers will be able to access credit, savings accounts, insurance, payment platforms, and other financial products that allow them to invest in their livelihoods without being exposed to exploitation or untenable risks.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala delivers the Second Annual Richard H. Sabot Lecture, June 20, 2007.