Banking in Africa – the way forward
What is needed is neither more conventional branch banking nor more small-scale microcredit initiatives. What it will take are integrated, large-scale strategies launched by commercial banks – strategies that offer affordable savings, payments and loan products and make them accessible to low-income customers based on cost-effective multi-channel models.
Need to quickly pay a bill online or at your nearby bank branch between two appointments on a busy day? The reality of the banking sector in sub-Saharan Africa could scarcely be more different. Busy and thriving retailers have to find an hour and a half to drive to the nearest bank branch, and then wait in line for another hour merely to deposit money in their account. And then there are the village teachers who have to cancel classes because it takes them a whole day to walk to the bank and get their salary payment. Or consider the farmers who, despite a good harvest, have to sell everything all at once at knock-down prices because they were unable to reserve storage space in the local granary after the money collector went off with their savings.