African women’s report 2021: digital finance ecosystems - pathways to women’s economic empowerment in Africa

This report contains a systematic analysis that sheds light on each component of digital finance and on how the components are linked with gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. It addresses five key challenges that limit the use of digital finance to promote women’s empowerment in Africa. The first challenge is the region’s lack of an enabling environment for digital connectivity, with a lower rate of mobile and Internet usage than other global regions, despite mobile money services being far more common than on any other continent. The second is the shortage of prerequisite skills in digital and financial literacy, with only around 12 per cent of women possessing digital finance-related information and communications technology (ICT) skills, a figure that is below the global average. The third challenge is that women face greater exclusion from conventional financial institutions and products, with only 33 per cent of women holding a formal bank account, compared with 43 per cent of men. The fourth challenge is that barriers persist, especially social and cultural norms within financial practices, products and services. The final challenge is that women are still not equally represented in relevant decision-making bodies in the digital and financial sectors and in related institutions.