Africa fintech festival 2021 was held in Mauritius

In 2021, Mauritius had the immense honour of hosting the Africa fintech festival. It won the right to do so in 2019 and aiming to become a fintech hub of excellence on the African continent, the Mauritius Africa Fintech Hub (MAFH) has been working hard so that it becomes a success, which it was. What exactly is this event about?

What is the Africa fintech festival?

The Africa fintech festival was first launched in 2018 by the Africa Fintech Network (AFN). AFN is a platform that brings together African experts of this particular industry. Fintech leaders, organisations and stakeholders come together to participate in an exchange of information and ideas so that innovative technologies can be created in and deployed across and beyond the continent. The organisation hopes that the ability to have open dialogue, to build rewarding synergies and to create new opportunities and new solutions for the fintech world will catalyse Africa’s digital economy.

In 2018, AFN launched the Africa fintech festival. In fact, while the idea for AFN was initiated in January of the same year, it was during the festival that that the network was formally inaugurated. Its goal was to address the future of the financial and technology sector in the African context and to enable the creation of home-grown solutions to the challenges faced by the African continent. It was themed “Beyond the hype of Fintech and its promises” and was a week-long event. On the first two days, main conferences were held and the remaining days were dedicated to various side events.

Following the success of the festival, a second edition was held in Uganda in 2019 to discuss the role of fintech in Africa’s digital economy and Mauritius was chosen as the next destination, with the hope of facilitating open collaboration for the purposes of driving innovation and financial inclusion. The main host was Mauritius Africa Fintech Hub (MAFH).

Mauritius Africa Fintech Hub facilitates development in the country

The fintech and technology sector in Mauritius is expanding at a rapid rate and this poses huge opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs. The MAFH is here to make things easier for investors. It is a network of experts and acts as a facilitator enabling businesses to part of the fintech community and to gain international exposure and business development opportunities. Specifically aimed at entrepreneurs, investors, FPS and corporates, it has four main categories of services. These are:

  • Innovation & Incubation
  • Regulation & Policy Strategy
  • Capacity and Skills Building
  • Deal Flow and Investment

The 2021 Africa fintech festival hosted by MAFH

Ahead of the festival, organisers had been receiving complaints from participants around the globe about not being able to attend it in person. This is unsurprisingly due to the Covid-19 pandemic and travel restrictions. Considering that the majority of participants, partners and stakeholders were unable to travel and the festival’s purpose is to enable collaboration, networking and opportunities in the FinTech space in Africa by focussing on equal opportunity, it was decided to change the usual schema of things. Both the Africa Fintech Network board and Mauritius African Fintech Hub have decided to change the format of the festival from hybrid to a purely virtual one. Thus, the festival was more inclusive and allowed everyone to participate in discussions.

The theme of the third edition was “FinTech, Sustainability and Innovation – The power trio to fast-forward Africa’s growth” and was a 3-day hybrid conference that took place from the 13th-15th October. It should be noted that it was preceded by a 1-day fully virtual and free event that took place on the 16th of June and addressed several topics such as digital ID, blockchain and crypto assets, digital financial literacy and others.

The October festival had more than 1400 attendees from over 90 countries who had the opportunity to listen to and engage with +100 key leader speakers across pan-Africa from private & public enterprises. Some of the key topics addressed were:

  • Designing and Scaling innovation organisations In Africa
  • Building a blockchain technology ecosystem in Africa
  • Fintechs to the rescue –building new roads to compliance
  • Drivers of digital transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Investing in Africa: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly
  • Regulating for Innovation

The success of the festival and a post-AFF event

Following the success of the festival, it was announced that there will be a post-AFF edition to be held in Mauritius soon. This will be a formal flag relay for Mauritius and it will precede the main 2022 AFF edition to be hosted by the Egypt FinTech Association (EFA). Speaking about the decision to hold the festival in Egypt, Noha Shaker, Secretary General of the EFA and elected Vice President of the AFN said, “It is an honour and a pleasure to be hosting all the Africa FinTech ecosystem in Egypt next year. We have a lot of exciting activities and initiatives to announce, none of which have been carried out in any part of Africa like the Green Finance Hub that we are going to be launching in Egypt in a few months’ time with key players around the ecosystem from Africa”.

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