Kenya trails Africa's Big 4 in fintech interest – report

Stears say the country’s booming green-tech sector is clawing funds away from fintech

In Summary
  • On average, Kenya claimed eight per cent of fintech investments on the continent between 2019−2023.
  • This is compared to Nigeria’s 39 per cent, Egypt’s 16 and South Africa’s 20 per cent.
Kenyans have embraced taking loans through digital-lending apps.
Kenyans have embraced taking loans through digital-lending apps.
Image: FILE

Kenya has in the past five years received less priority from fintech investors compared to Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa.

This according to a report by Nigerian based market intelligence firm Stears, which focuses on African investments.

“On average, Kenya claimed eight per cent of fintech investments on the continent between 2019−2023,” the report reads.

Nigeria had 39 per cent, Egypt 16 and South Africa 20 per cent.

According to the report, among the reasons Kenya could be considered a lower priority destination for fintech investments is due to the country’s booming green-tech sector that may be clawing funds away from fintech.

It says the country has claimed about 45 per cent of Africa’s clean-tech investment since 2019.

Stears also say Safaricom’s near monopoly in the market could also be a factor. 

The report says this aspect makes the consumer financial landscape less attractive to investors.

“The telco controls about 97 per cent of mobile money wallets market share, thus most fintechs would struggle to compete for the consumer market.”

It projects that fintechs and banks in the country will not displace Safaricom’s well-defended consumer payment empire anytime soon.

“Fintechs would then tend to focus on other critical user-segments: Merchants, large enterprises and legacy financial institutions,” the report reads.

For Safaricom’s future relevance, the report says it will mainly lies on its ability to partner with other financial institutions to deliver more sophisticated financial services beyond basic payments, for instance insurance, pensions and asset management.

Fintechs being part of the Micro Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, the report highlights the challenges facing them apart from being less a priority to investors.

It says about 49 per cent of Kenyan MSMEs today face barriers accessing finance, a number that is higher than the African average of 40 per cent.

Last year, Communications Authority of Kenya noted the enterprises also face the challenge of compliance constraints, apart from funding squeeze, reasons the agency said pushes majority of them to close shop in less than a year.

“Close to 80 per cent of start-ups often die within the first year of operation, while only three to five per cent make it beyond the one year period of survival,” CA said.

It further noted that the remaining 15 per cent fall under the unpredictable category, which still have very low chances of survival.

To cure this, the agency advised that they should embrace partnerships with investors across different sectors, to ease their challenges.

"Leveraging partnerships means the firms will be able to enhance financial control and drive operational efficiency by providing valuable insights and other strategic support functions, enabling them focus on core activities and achieve their strategic goals," states the report.


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