Now in its fifth year, Abidjan’s Next Fintech Forum (NFF), one of the largest fintech events in Francophone Africa, is organising its event around the theme “Fintech and Commerce: How Fintech will shape commerce in Francophone Africa”, on November 16th and 17th at the Radisson Blu, Abidjan. 

“We want to make francophone fintech an attractive market for innovators, big techs, and investors, and develop DFIs to improve financial inclusion. Develop an inclusive and multi-stakeholder crucible for reflection,” Alex Sea, founder and director of Next Fintech Forum, told TechCabal. 

As the startup economy becomes continent-wide, national ecosystems have turned to events to showcase their progress and attract talent and investors to establish themselves as serious participants in Africa’s tech ecosystem. In Morroco, GITEX, the world’s biggest tech show, held its first event in Africa, where the government selected 100 startups from its startup development programme to demonstrate the country’s startup ambitions, while this week Uganda’s government is hosting an investor summit to attract investors as the race for East Africa’s second-biggest tech ecosystem heats up. 

With the support of the Ivorian government, NFF is following the same playbook by bringing together commercial banks, investors, and startups to discuss industry issues and opportunities and network. This year, the forum is adding a fintech academia summit where African scholars from different countries and areas of expertise can deliberate on fintech solutions and develop curricula adapted to Africa’s job market. The summit will also allow these scholars to catalyse the digital transformation of the financial sector through research, education, and cooperation. 

According to Sea, “This year, the NFF will give opportunities to players to discover the potential of trade catalysed by financial technologies in francophone Africa through an exhibition of opportunities. The presence of stakeholders in the value chain opens the door to discovering and highlighting national projects and regional ones, by making it possible to meet decision-makers and innovators, which will help traders understand and appropriate the technologies. This will allow them to be more efficient and develop their income, meet fintech founders.”

In addition, as Africa’s blockchain industry has been beset by startup closures and setbacks over the past year, the forum will hold its first-ever blockchain hackathon, bringing together enthusiasts of blockchain technology to take on the challenge of coming up with creative solutions that have the potential to be funded and implemented. The forum will also feature around twenty discussions, workshops, panels, and master classes.

Abidjan’s growth as a tech hub in the region has grown with healthy competition from Dakar, and the NFF’s contribution to attracting funding for the ecosystem has seen a significant rise since its inception. “Activities on the NFF have enabled geographical growth opportunities for players; assistance agreements between players have been signed, and we have also seen fundraising and investment promises amounting to more than $100 million,” Sea told TechCabal.

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