Uganda’s digital economy will be powered by open APIs

UNCDF UgandaDuring a workshop on ‘OPEN APIs/ OPEN DATA in the Digital Economy’ held in Kampala, the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) stressed how fast-tracking interoperability between companies will contribute to the growth of the digital economy in Uganda

Convened by the UNCDF and facilitated by Aiaze Mitha, an international expert in DFS and open payments ecosystems, the workshop gathered more than 70 participants from Fintech, Startups, Telecos and government institutions that are now reflecting on the benefits of open APIs.

“Third-party partnership programmes are the standard model for growth employed by large enterprises across all industries. Companies testify to the significant benefits including accelerated growth, higher brand awareness, increased revenue and presence in new markets,” Mitha said.

In Uganda, around 28 per cent of the adult population use formal financial services (defined as banks, Microfinance Deposit-Taking Institutions and Savings and Credit Cooperative Organizations). On the other hand, according to the Bank of Uganda, the number of registered mobile money subscribers by July 2017 was 22.9 million. These numbers demonstrate that increasingly, customers are looking for quicker and more convenient processes.

Unfortunately, traditional financial service providers are limited in their ability to innovate and deliver advanced customer experiences.

According to Mitha, tomorrow’s financial services providers (FSPs) will need to be radically different to compete in the digital finance space. Opening their systems will allow for more willing and talented companies, particularly startups to innovate for the customers of these FSPs – thus improving the value proposition of the latter with new services.

“UNCDF is committed to working with public and private sector partners to build an Inclusive Digital Economy that leaves no Ugandan behind in this digital era,” noted Chris Lukolyo, digital country lead for UNCDF.

UNCDF is holding one on one discussions with various institutions in the industry particularly telecom companies, banks and Fintechs on how to work towards opening their APIs.

UNCDF has helped build the rails of the digital economy in Uganda with its programmes on financial inclusion since 2014. The agency is currently implementing a programme focused on building an inclusive digital economy in Uganda. To ensure that no one is left behind in the digital era, UNCDF is working with a selection of partners ready to address underserved markets in particular women, youth, refugees and smallholder farmers.

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