Innovative technology needed for economic growth

Martin Endjala

The recently concluded Fintech Square 2023 innovation event in Windhoek which ended on 11 May 2023, is hailed as a game changer in particular in the public sector that is mainly dominated by young people.

For this reason, the Deputy Minister for Finance and Public Enterprise Maureen Hinda-Mbuende said that requires there is a need for innovation and technology to drive economic growth, due to changing financial landscape, therefore, emphasizing the need for cooperation to support such innovation.

“In this regard, public-private partnership is key not only to support and create an enabling environment but also to protect the consumers, especially the vulnerable communities across Namibia.”

She made these remarks during the Fintech Square 2023 last week, where she stated that there is a need for multi-stakeholder cooperation in this area of innovative technology across the economy, but in particular for the financial sector.

Therefore, she believes that there is a constant need for multidisciplinary initiatives focused on teamwork, knowledge sharing, agility and mostly cooperation between various sectors and institutions within the domestic economy.

I call for an intergovernmental FINTECH WORKING GROUP that can lead to a National Regulatory Sandbox, starting from the financial sector as a key sector in financing the growth of the domestic economy,” said Hinda-Mbuende.

In supporting the thriving tech industry and the innovators the Deputy Minister, stressed that it is a necessity that appropriate regulations are developed and implemented.

Moreover, such regulations she said, are balanced in ensuring that it creates an enabling environment but also mitigates key risks, such as cyber security risks.

Ultimately, it is important to protect the end-user who is the consumer from the inevitable evolution of technology and emerging risks. It is in this regard that appropriate regulations that speak to protecting the consumer must be developed.

“I have been informed that the Authority has taken this into account and has put in place appropriate measures. This I believe can be an enabler and not a barrier for innovation in the sector,” explained Hinda-Mbuende.

The Ministry has recognised that technology is critical to ensure efficiency in the public sector, growth within the domestic economy, job creation and raising productivity across Namibia and it is perhaps the single most important economic activity that can change the lives of young people through not only creating jobs but also becoming owners of businesses and therefore encouraging local participation in the domestic economy.

Meanwhile, the Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Matomola said as Policymakers, regulators, regulated entities and the public, the question if we are thinking of innovation as a threat or an opportunity.

Is a question which they continuously ponder upon at NAMFISA, knowing the limitation in terms of appropriate legislation and the delay in crafting, promulgating and bringing into force thereof, but at the moment witnessing a transformational financial sector ready to embrace technology.

“Indeed the financial services industry is undergoing an unprecedented transformation across the world, driven by digital technologies. These technologies are reshaping business models and operations in financial services but have also changed our lives throughout the world,” explained Matomola.

Moreover, the effects of covid-19 pandemic are what led to some new emerging technologies in the world, and the resilience of the financial sector, but almost all sectors of the Namibian economy have rebounded as witnessed.

Including the economic expansion to 4.6 percent last year, although unemployment still remains high. Namfisa CEO is however optimistic as factory doors opened, airports started to receive incoming flights, and tourism arrivals grew at a significant rate, but even beyond we have promises of clean energy solutions and oil.

While reiterating that innovation and most importantly technological advancements have arisen as a key opportunity to drive efficiency and financial inclusion in Namibia.

In order to effectively drive this evolution, key elements must be considered such as appropriate telecommunications infrastructure, conducive policy and regulatory frameworks that will help spur innovation, but also mitigate key risks emerging, coordinated institutional funding arrangements, skills development and partnerships among key institutions and inclusion of the Namibian Youth.

“In our new strategy, NAMFISA recognizes that as Regulators we cannot ignore this tech evolution, which led to one of the key strategic themes in our strategy 2022-2027, and in line with the last Namibia Financial Sector Strategy 2011-2021, of which financial inclusion and access was a key strategic outcome,” Matomola said.

It aims to be an innovative organisation that strives in the adoption and implementation of technology, and automation to promote efficient service delivery.

“Innovation is the key to unlocking the full potential of FinTech. It is through innovation that we can create groundbreaking solutions to address the evolving needs of consumers and in particular those in the far rural areas of our land.

We must constantly challenge the status quo, embrace change, and leverage emerging technologies to stay ahead of the curve. Our ability to adapt and innovate will determine our success in this ever-changing landscape,” Matomola concluded.

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