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Building the digital finance community in Zambia

Digital finance professionals in Zambia have established the Association of Digital Finance Professionals with the support of Digital Frontiers Institute (DFI) and FSD Zambia. Sarah Corley, Community and Professional Development Manager at DFI, explains the reason for their success as an association and as a leading country in the digital finance space for professional development.

Communities of practice form an essential component of the foundational online course that DFI presents. It gives students an opportunity to share ideas and solve problems together, while also building out their professional network. In many countries in Africa and Asia, regional communities of practice serve as a meeting point for fintech professionals.

In Zambia, capacity building has been incredibly successful partly due to the community of practice and its development, but also to the partnership on the ground with FSD Zambia, who helped advocate for DFI’s training programs and exposed key organisations to DFI’s curriculum. They also helped identify local scholarship recipients using funds provided  by FSD Africa. These scholarships were prioritised for:

  • Individuals in key organisations/institutions that have not attended a DFI programme, such as the Ministry of Finance and the Competition Commission, strengthening the implementation of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy for Zambia.
  • CIDM alumni for completion of DFI’s 3-year Certified Digital Finance Practitioner (CDFP) program. Alumni were chosen based on their commitment and success both during their CIDM course, and also how they applied their learning.

Good numbers of students on the DFI courses resulted in an active community of practice being established in Lusaka, which is facilitated by Charity Chikumbi from FSDZ. She is now assisted by Joseph Micelo of Zanaco Bank. The COP has been running since DFI training began and has been well attended by a variety of organisations, including Central Bank, commercial banks, mobile network operators, regulators, and professionals in the development sector and fintech companies. Bank of Zambia has also endorsed DFI’s courses

Through these investments in Zambia’s talent, they continue on their path of learning and add value to digital finance and financial inclusion within Zambia. It has allowed a wide selection of the digital finance community to be exposed to new knowledge and through the COP have a place to contextualise the knowledge and apply it within Zambia.

Following the success of the community of practice, a small sub-group of DFI alumni decided to form a registered association within Zambia. They developed a constitution, including aim and vision, code of ethics and purpose, and formally registered the association with the name Association of Digital Finance Professionals (ADFP).

DFI, FSDZ, Bank of Zambia, Ministry of Finance and ZICTA all endorsed the ADFP and were present at its launch event on 14 March 2019. The launch was well attended by around 70 professionals in digital financial services, representing regulatory authorities Bank of Zambia and the Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority; financial services providers Zanaco, FNB, the Zambian National Building Society, Access Bank, AB Bank, Zoona, Atlas Mara and Indo Zambia Bank; mobile network operators MTN and Airtel; and development organisations Financial Sector Deepening Zambia and UNCDF.

Here are some of the key highlights of the Zambian community of practice:

  • The community of practice raised the profile of both FSD Africa and DFI within Zambia.
  • A network of DFS professionals within Lusaka now exists.
  • An assistant COP facilitator was appointed once alumni numbers grew over 100.
  • The alumni (over 200 students) began to meet regularly, with a focus on taking action to address challenges relating to DFS and financial inclusion within Zambia.

Following Zambia’s success, DFI have identified factors that influence a country’s uptake of professional development with DFI, which include an on-the-ground partner, the support of an active COP and alumni base, the country itself having a financial inclusion agenda, and having DFI advocates (organisations and individuals). We are adopting this approach in other countries with the aim of achieving similar success with capacity building.

To find out more about communities of practice and DFI’s League of Digital Finance Professionals, visit our Community. A special thanks to Charity Chikumbi and Joseph Michelo who facilitate the COP and helped found the ADFP; the other founding members of the ADFP: Douglas Zulu, Inonge Imasiku, Malcolm Harrington, Tendai Luwabelwa, Tukuza Lungu, and Moonga Chinika; and to Betty Wilkinson, CEO of FSD Zambia, for collaborating with the ADFP and DFI.

 

Juliet Munro, Director of Financial Systems at FSD Africa commented, “We are delighted to have partnered with DFI and FSD Zambia to promote the Community of Practice and extend its reach enabling digital finance professionals to connect and to share ideas in Zambia. We look forward to seeing this model replicated in other countries”.

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