June 22, 2024

UNCDF to identify barriers to innovation in Malawi

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UNCDF Image-From UNCDF Website and Malawi Flag-Image Credit to jorono from pixabay.com

Malawi’s emerging innovation arena has huge potential for focusing on the progression of Malawi’s Digitalized economy. UNCDF had already convened core players in this arena for identification as well as in analyzing possible prospects for collaboration and brainstorm on the common challenges faced and how to resolve them. This in turn will aid in fully capitalizing on this potential and promotion inclusive innovation.

For the contribution to the engagement, UNCDF has invited expert panel operating in the tech arena; mHub Innovation Hub, Public-Private Partnership Commission implementing the Digital Malawi Project, Ntha Foundation, and BongoHive Innovation Hub from Zambia, who all mutually contributed for the best practices and insights connecting to spurring innovation.

Statement from Iris Kissiti, Digital Finance Coordinator in Malawi

She stated: “We cannot underestimate the value of having such conversations with like-minded professionals and creating spaces where public and private sector can have these discussions on priority issues.”

The affluent discussion unheralded numerous core messages and learning: –

As per the UNCDF, the numerous hurdles experienced in Malawi, like that inadequate infrastructure and poor digital and financial literacy, are not unique to Malawi. Many acknowledge that for digital merchandise portfolio and services to be inclusive, literacy must be addressed to enable better usage of the products and services.

The gender gap in the tech arena exists, where fewer women than men are occupied in offering or managing digital or FinTech solutions for the market. However, Ms. Nthanda Manduwi of the Ntha Foundation, highlighted that there are adequate prospects to spark participation and usage for women, but women themselves are not empowered or don’t feel confident that this is their space to work or be in. This is an area that requires a huge work for shifting.

Malawi’s regulators and policymakers have established and implemented many good policies and regulations that govern the digital finance market, but there is a dearth of policies regarding FinTechs as they often do not fit into a regulatory remit of the Registrar of Financial Institutions.

Areas like that of crowdfunding, Fintech credit, and open banking, among others could benefit from new policies to be settled in order for evolution and expansion in this sector.

Stakeholders recommended that a Sandbox approach to the latest innovations in the market could help spur the progression of the latest merchandise and services.

Technical skills within the innovation community are required to be progressed in order to deepen the technical forte in the arena. Participants identified the requirement for programs that figure a pipeline of innovators commencing at the primary school level, which will ensure a robust skill base for a robust digital economy.

Participants anticipated that increase of a National Digital Innovation Strategy is vital. Such a strategy will benefit to address and strategically position funding towards digital innovations, shaping favorable policies and regulations to defend digital entrepreneurs and propel progression.

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