We believe that innovation is accelerated by the serendipitous collision of ideas, and we hope the Finance Forward series can help to facilitate that process in some way.
With this in mind we would like to present the third edition of Finance Forward. In this edition we scanned a large number and wide variety of articles (academic and popular) that were published during the fourth quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012. In this edition we present four themes, which build upon those themes found in the first and second editions.
Theme 1: Africa’s Demographic Shift – Dividend or Liability. This theme explores the massive shift that is occurring with the continent’s population set to double in size over the next 40 years, from 1 billion to 2 billion. The population will not only change in size, but also in make-up. Fertility rates are falling, and in the coming decade, a mass of young people will move into its most productive years. Evident by the issues in Tunisia and Egypt, an economy full of young people that is unable to create job is a potent source of unrest. Youth unemployment in Africa will need to be managed appropriately to make the continent’s population boom a dividend rather than a liability.
Theme 2: The Next Agricultural Revolution? – Mobile Phones and Innovative Finance in African Agriculture. The global population is still growingly rapidly, and over the next several decades, it is expected to require a 70% increase in food production, mostly from the developing world, including Africa. African farming to-date has typically been characterized by chronically low productivity, but new financial service offerings and greater mobile phone penetration are improving African farmer’s production and profitability. With Africa set to become the world’s second-largest mobile market by year end, there is a great potential for small-scale agriculture.
Theme 3: The Importance of Marketing Innovative Financial Services to Women. Recent research has confirmed that women think and behave differently than men when it comes to financial matters, and there is an emerging focus on tailoring financial services specifically to low-income women – especially in rural areas. This theme focuses on how delivering financial products and services that meet women’s needs will be a major test for the future growth of innovate financial services.
Theme 4: Syncing Up – Africa’s Increasing Ties with the Global Economy. Africa has become more reliant than ever on its trading partners as markets for its commodity exports. If India and China continue to grow, so will Africa. However, any significant slowdown of the expansion of Africa’s new trading partners – China in particular – would be of great concern. This theme explores the impact that global economic trends will have on Africa’s future prospects.