Kenya’s newly elected President, William Ruto, has selected Prof Njuguna Ndung’u, the immediate former Central Bank of Kenya Governor, to be the country’s Cabinet Secretary for Finance.
Ndun’gu was Governor between 2007 and 2015 and was at the helm when many of Kenya’s fintech innovations such as mobile money and mobile banking came alive. The impact of services such as M-PESA, MSHWARI, and FULIZA are often highlighted by the continued growth in financial inclusion in the East African nation.
In 2010, Kenya’s financial inclusion rate was 26.7% and increased tremendously in the years that followed such that by 2020, it had hit 82.9%.
The incoming minister currently serves as Executive Director of the Africa Economic Reform Consortium where he spearheads research and training to inform economic policy making for African countries. In this position, he has pointed to Africa’s successful fintech companies as the gateway for Africa excelling in the 4th Industrial Revolution.
According to Ndung’u, who is also an associate Professor of Economics at the University of Nairobi, an electronic retail payments system has already evolved in Africa:
Once a retail payments platform is operational, it becomes a game-changer. FinTechs can roll out new products across all sectors of the economy. – Minister of Finance, Kenya
In a discussion paper on digital disruption and financial inclusion, Mr. Ndung’u indicates that the retail payments system makes it possible for creators to introduce sustainable business models across all sectors of the economy and a chance to spur inclusive development across a variety of sectors that includes:
- Smallholder farmers and inputs
- Household solar energy supply
- Health sector payments
- Water vending machines in urban slums
- Investment in government securities
At the same time, Ndung’u identifies the opportunity to create tax platforms that minimize financial leakages in the current fintech era and government service platforms.
Interestingly, Ndung’u has also been quoted as supporting stablecoins as a viable approach when it comes to financial access. It will be interesting to see if he pushes for such during his tenure in the Kenyan government.
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