By Chinenye Anuforo

Mastercard and the African Development Bank Group have launched the Mobilizing Access to the Digital Economy (MADE) Alliance: Africa to extend digital access to critical services to 100 million individuals and businesses in Africa over the next 10 years. The announcement was made on the sidelines of the U.S.-Africa Business Forum hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

On the sidelines of a major U.S.-Africa business meeting, a powerful alliance emerged. Mastercard and the African Development Bank Group joined forces to launch the Mobilising Access to the Digital Economy (MADE) Alliance. This ambitious initiative aims to bridge the digital divide for a staggering 100 million Africans over the next decade.

Imagine a future where millions across Africa can access essential services with a tap or a click. The MADE Alliance plans to make this a reality by providing digital tools and infrastructure. But their vision goes beyond just connection. They’re setting their sights on empowering African women and transforming the agricultural sector. The first chapter of this story unfolds with a pilot program targeting 3 million farmers in Kenya, Tanzania, and Nigeria. By equipping them with digital identities and access to resources, they hope to unlock new opportunities for growth and prosperity.

“Mastercard’s work leading the new MADE Alliance: Africa aims to provide 100 million people greater digital access to critical services,” said Michael Miebach, CEO of Mastercard. “Across Africa, people are driving new growth and opportunity, and Mastercard wants to support their success. This Alliance builds on the innovations and investments we are already making with partners in 45 countries to enhance Africa’s digital infrastructure and accelerate inclusive growth.”

As co-chairs, the African Development Bank Group will invest $300 million to support Alliance programs, providing funding for digital infrastructure and incentivizing ecosystem actors to enhance digital access, and Mastercard will register 15 million users in Africa onto its Community Pass platform within five years, with interoperable digital infrastructure to facilitate involvement from a range of ecosystem participants. Launched in 2020, Community Pass is a social enterprise at Mastercard that digitizes and connects remote, underserved communities to governments, NGOs and the private sector for access to critical services.

“The African Development Bank Group believes that digitalization via Mastercard Community Pass can play a vital role in increasing the adoption of agricultural technologies to help feed Africa, as well as improve the incomes of millions of African smallholder farmers. Joining the Mobilizing Access to the Digital Economy Alliance: Africa will amplify and multiply the impact of the Bank’s investments to build sustainable, climate-smart food systems across the continent. We applaud U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris’ commitment to financial and digital inclusion in Africa,” said African Development Bank Group President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina.

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To enable more people to join the digital economy, an ecosystem of public and private sector partners is critical. The Alliance matches partners’ complementary strengths in key geographies to promote sustainable digital access. Together, the partners will deliver connectivity, skilling, employment and digital access to financial and other critical services.

More than half a dozen organizations have committed to participate in the MADE Alliance: Africa at launch, including Equity Bank, Microsoft, Heifer International, and Syngenta Foundation. The African Development Bank Group and Mastercard will serve as initial co-chairs of the effort.

The efforts of the MADE Alliance: Africa will support the U.S. Digital Transformation with Africa Initiative (DTA) and the African Union’s Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa (DTS). It also ties into other business objectives announced this year focused on Africa, including:

A memorandum of agreement with the International Trade Administration, a bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce, to advance digital access and inclusion in Africa based on a mutual interest to support the aims of the U.S. Government’s Digital Transformation with Africa initiative and MADE Alliance: Africa. This collaboration builds on Mastercard hosting U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo during AmCham in Nairobi in April for a “Digital Showcase” on best practices and lessons learned for building and scaling digital solutions across the continent of Africa.

EdTech Africa, a new partnership between the Government of Kenya, Kenyan President Ruto and the U.S., which builds on Mastercard’s existing multi-million-dollar investments with the Atlanta University Consortium (AUC) Data Science Initiative and Howard University’s Center for Applied Data Science & Analytics Initiative. This effort cultivates educational exchanges between Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and African scholars in the ever-evolving landscape of emerging technology and is an example of innovation, talent empowerment and cross-cultural connectivity across the African diaspora, poised to drive forward education and technology for young leaders of Africa and America.

A new partnership involving Mastercard Community Pass, the Co-operative Bank of Kenya, the Shell Foundation, and the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office gives smallholder farmers access to a digital marketplace and enables affordable credit to buy clean energy tools that support farmers’ incomes, such as solar-powered irrigation pumps. First announced in January, the effort aligns with Mastercard’s involvement with two USAID initiatives: the President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE) and the Women in the Digital Economy Fund (WiDEF).

Bringing together public and private sector leaders will create and enhance accessible, affordable and trusted technology and digital tools that are scalable, enabling more people to join the digital economy.

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