Mastercard joined US Vice President Kamala Harris for a roundtable discussion in Zambian capital, Lusaka, where she issued a call to action to public and private sector leaders to invest in national financial inclusion strategies to close the digital divide across the continent.
Only an estimated 33% of the population in Africa use the internet and only 55% in Sub-Saharan Africa have official proof of identity, meaning the remainder of the population are not realizing digital dividends.
Mastercard called for a rethink of current approaches to Africa’s digital divide, drawing attention to partnerships which are at the heart of its Africa strategy. It highlighted the power of technology and innovation to connect everyone to the digital economy, enabling service delivery across diverse sectors, and driving economic growth.
Underpinned by its pledge to globally connect 1 billion people to the digital economy by 2025, Mastercard is going beyond its core business of connecting people and businesses to payments, by creating new businesses that enable not just financial inclusion but also digital inclusion.
Mark Elliott, Mastercard’s Division President of Sub-Saharan Africa, cited the example of Community Pass, a digital platform designed to address infrastructure challenges that arise in digitizing rural communities, such as unreliable connectivity, low smartphone ownership, and lack of consistent identification or credentials.
“We are committed to register 30 million people to our Community Pass platform by 2027, with a focus on registering 15 million people across Africa, including women in underserved and remote communities, increasing their access to digital commerce, agricultural markets, healthcare services, and humanitarian benefits, by providing digital identities and a digital acceptance network. To date, we have enabled 2.4 million individuals in Africa – mostly smallholder farmers – to participate in the digital economy,” said Elliott.
Community Pass provides individuals a functional digital ID and digitizes their life transactions, making them visible to a multitude of service providers. For example, smallholder farmers can leverage Community Pass to access a bigger pool of buyers, quality inputs, and credit to grow their business. Across Africa, public and private sector organizations leverage Community Pass to get farmers paid more and faster.
Community Pass was also referenced earlier this week in a fact sheet launched by VP Harris on global initiatives focused on the economic empowerment of women: Fact Sheet: Vice President Harris Launches Global Initiatives on the Economic Empowerment of Women, Totaling over $1 Billion.