If Ugandan Fintech was at a dating event, it’d would be the person at the bar that nobody had asked to dance yet. For too long left in the shade of (rather annoyingly) big cousin Kenya and (even more annoyingly) medium cousins Tanzania and Rwanda – things are suddenly starting to look more rosier for the Ugandan fintech scene.

Uganda has been the forgotten sibling of the East African region

Like all developing economies, country GDP trends can only tell part of the story – but benchmarking against similar nations with global data is always useful.

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The economy is growing impressively as the chart (% GDP growth trend) shows. GDP Annual Growth Rate in Uganda averaged around 5.6% percent from 2009 until 2018; much of the recent growth coming from services and finance rather than commodities. This suggests a movement in the right direction.

However on the flip side, regional comparisons of the Ugandan economy suggest that more could be done to raise the standards of the economy and reduce inequalities. No proud Ugandan will be happy to see that on an East African basis, the relative performance has been behind its cousins. (Source: IMF)

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Fintech can help raise Ugandan economic performance

There’s a growing recognition within the region’s emerging fintech scene that it can drive economic growth and widen financial inclusion for all sections of society.

Within sub-Saharan Africa, East Africa continues to lead in terms of adoption and usage rates (of mobile financial services). Whereas overall financial depth remains below other regions, Fintech is emerging as an engine of growth and technological enabler that fosters financial inclusion and economic development. IMF African Dept, Report on Fintech in Sub-Saharan Africa 2019

Thanks to the advance of mobile money, tens of millions of unbanked have become accustomed to using technology to manage their finances. This has been transformational within the region, and across the continent. This wide acceptance of using technology can now be harnessed to widen financial access further.

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As has been identified by the IMF, the low level of financial infrastructure generates demand for payment services, with a relatively large level of access to mobile devices. Fintech can change the financial industry in sub-Saharan Africa by increasing competition and efficiency – not least for SME’s and rural communities who lack the credit and means to make transactions.

Enter FITSPA – seeking to drive the fintech agenda in Uganda

FITSPA (Financial Technology Service Providers’ Association) was formed in Uganda to support and strengthen the fintech ecosystem; driving innovation and investment to the country. The organisation is independent, non-profit, and represents Uganda’s local fintech community and global partners.

Fintech is driving most of the business sectors in Uganda making them more convenient, accessible, affordable and provides accountability at every stage. Our members create, develop and support solutions that solve the day today challenges of Uganda’s business environment using Technology. Our members are able to serve the unbanked using different channels to financially include everyone and achieve one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development goals that will help alleviate poverty in our economy.

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Zianah N. Muddu, Engagement Partner FITSPA & General Secretary Africa FinTech Network

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2019 sets to be a busy year with Ugandan fintech under the spotlight thanks to the African Fintech Festival being held in Kampala in November.

Supported by the Africa Fintech Network, it offers a chance for public and private institutions to mingle with entrepreneurs – Uganda front and centre of the agenda. As Zianah adds;

Hosting the Africa Fintech Festival will be a game changer for Uganda. So often we’ve looked across the region to larger markets for ideas and inspiration. For Ugandan entrepreneurs, this is an opportunity to show thought leadership and ideas that will shape fintech across the continent.

Held under the theme “Building Africa’s Digital Economy with Fintech”, up to 500 delegates from Africa and around the world will converge to consider deliberate and meaningful steps that must be taken to ensure Fintech delivers its promise to open up the financial society. More on the agenda will be published in this Ugandan series of fintech articles.

Ugandan diaspora – this time coming home with $’s to invest

It is estimated that more than 1.5 million Ugandans live in the diaspora and international remittances have been measured at around 5% of total GDP; clearly, they play a significant role in the economy. Remittances by the diaspora used to be focused on consumption and not investment, but that is changing with the rise of middle class Ugandans in the UK, Europe and America. In the UK, there are more than 100 thousand Ugandans, many of whom are now successful entrepreneurs. This diaspora is looking for investment opportunities and fintech offers a new high growth sector.

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British Ugandans are an established economic block with significant funds to invest in the home country – but they expect real economic return. They take an interest in Uganda based on their heart, but invest based on their head. The fundamentals of fintech growth inevitably leads to interest in investing. At this year’s UK-Uganda Conventionthey’ll be seeking these opportunities.

Willy Mutenza Chairman, Uganda Convention-UK

This year’s UK-Uganda Convention is being held for the 9th year running and for the first time will feature fintech as a major focus area. Having created a partnership with FITSPA, the event will have a dedicated agenda to Ugandan fintech; featuring scale-up companies from Uganda and local insight from FITSPA. The event is supported by WorldRemit, one of Uganda’s remittance partners, who will also present their view on growth via partnerships in the country.

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If you’re interested in getting involved with Fintech in Uganda, feel free to reach out to the organisers. The event will be held with a view to initiating an investment visit shortly afterwards. For any further information: Willy Mutenza, Chairman, | Uganda Convention-UK www.ugandanconventionuk.org  | willy.mutenza@ugandanconventionuk.org

The author of this article, Martin Best is the Managing Director of the agency Full Reach. Martin is a London-based global Fintech expert, and was previously Head of Brand Marketing, EMEA Marketing and Global Marketing Partnerships for Fintech superstar WorldRemit, where he delivered the global campaigns ‘Money in Safe Hands (2016) and A better way to send money (2017). In 2018 Martin supported WorldRemit’s expansion

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of mobile wallet services in Africa. Martin has a passion for supporting projects that help create entrepreneurial opportunities for Africans in Africa. This has included supporting campaigns and initiatives in African nations including Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ghana and Nigeria. Martin has had an international career spanning several countries including Director of Marketing for Carlsberg Group, and several senior Director positions in Russia, Asia and Scandinavia.