Mastercard participated in a roundtable discussion with US Vice President Kamala Harris in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, where Harris called on public and private sector leaders to invest in national financial inclusion strategies to bridge the digital divide across Africa.
The lack of internet usage among African populations is estimated to be 33%, while only 55% of Sub-Saharan Africa can provide official proof of identity, highlighting the need for investment in digital inclusion.
Mastercard is advocating for a reconsideration of current approaches to Africa’s digital divide and emphasizing the importance of partnerships in its Africa strategy.
It believes that technology and innovation are powerful tools for connecting individuals to the digital economy, promoting service delivery across various sectors, and driving economic growth.
Mastercard has pledged to connect 1 billion people to the digital economy globally by 2025, and is expanding beyond its core business of payments to create new businesses that enable not only financial inclusion, but also digital inclusion.
Mark Elliott, Mastercard’s Division President of Sub-Saharan Africa, cited the example of Community Pass, a digital platform designed to address infrastructure challenges in digitizing rural communities, including unreliable connectivity, low smartphone ownership, and inconsistent identification.
The platform aims to register 30 million people by 2027, with a focus on registering 15 million people across Africa, including women in underserved and remote communities.
Community Pass provides individuals with a functional digital ID and digitizes their transactions, making them visible to multiple service providers. Smallholder farmers can use the platform to access more buyers, quality inputs, and credit to grow their businesses.
Across Africa, public and private sector organizations use Community Pass to get farmers paid more quickly and efficiently. To date, Mastercard has enabled 2.4 million individuals in Africa, primarily smallholder farmers, to participate in the digital economy.