African start-ups at the forefront of digital innovations transforming Africa’s economy
African tech innovators at the recent Africa Money & Defi Summit in Accra, Ghana proved that they are at the forefront of change on the continent, from fintech to agritech.
“Africa has the ability to leapfrog into decentralized finance (Defi) and smooth over the difficulties of cross-border finance through blockchain and web3,” said participant PayBox co-founder David Boye-Doku.
One of the beneficiaries of the ITC NTF V program, PayBox is a fast growing African fintech start-up cross-border mobile growth engine enabling easy access to offline and online digital payment and business solutions.
“Decentralizing finance in Africa will give everyone access and the choice of alternative currencies; it offers financial and digital inclusion,” Boye-Doku said.
ITC, through its NTF V Tech project in Ghana, sponsored fintech start-ups PayBox, Motito, Pal and Makewehelp to exhibit at the West Africa Money and Defi event. Fintech leaders like MFS Africa and Paystack and Web3-focused businesses Revio and Mazzuma also attended, sharing their industry knowledge.
“It was amazing. We met many Nigerians who were looking for products that worked with web2.0 and web3 blockchain. We explained what we are doing in web2.0 and what we have started for web3 and they were interested,” Boye-Doku said.
PayBox began its business journey by offering mobile payment solutions to small and medium sized enterprises.
“The next phase is infusing web3 rails on mobile payments so that a local wallet can become an international wallet for small businesses and millennials in Africa. Your phone number can become a crypto wallet to send funds easily across Africa,” said Boye-Doku.
Web3 wallets can be web-based, mobile-based, or even hardware based. Their relatively simple user interaction provides the user access to decentralized blockchain-based apps that serve as gateways to crypto assets. This allows users to instantly send and receive those assets via mobile phone number, email or crypto address.
Boye-Doku believes central bank digital currency (CBDC) is the key to the rapid development and growth of African economies. “It would allow capital to move freely at lightning speed with near zero transaction fees and convert crypto into currencies. This means we can spend in our domains as well as transact with people not in our domains,” he said.
“We chatted with a representative from the Bank of Ghana, and they are looking for a token that will sit on top of the Ghanaian CBDC. We are already building an exchange token so they can ride on that,” he said.
ITC helped Paybox to attend the summit. “ITC has been amazing,” said Boye-Doku. “They play a key role in empowering start-ups, giving them access to information, training and a global presence.”
Netherlands Trust Fund V - NTF V
The Netherlands Trust Fund V (NTF) (July 2021 – June 2025) is based on a partnership between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands and the International Trade Centre. The programme supports MSMEs in the digital technologies and agribusiness sectors. Its ambition is two-fold: to contribute to an inclusive and sustainable transformation of food systems, partially through digital solutions, and drive the internationalisation of tech start-ups and export of IT & BPO companies in selected Sub-Saharan African countries.