It is against this backdrop that AITEC is running its fifth annual banking conference on 2nd and 3rd March, bringing into Nairobi more than 100 speakers from 16 countries.
We have never run a conference that has been chosen as the forum to announce so many new initiatives.
We have side meetings organised to establish a COMESA regional bankers association and to input on Council decisions on liberalisation of the sector.
We shall see the announcement of the formation of the new East African Bankers’ Association. We have the East African Business Council and the Gates Foundation also both announcing new initiatives at the conference.
I partnership with Google, iHub and the Kenya ICT Board, we are creating a Young Innovators Mobile Applications Hub in the exhibition to showcase Kenya’s numerous new emerging young software developers who are taking the market by storm with the high volume of leading edge mobile money applications. Together with iHub and the ICT Board, we are selecting eight young innovators to demonstrate their products in the Hub.
But the major focus of the event is education through its conference programme. Our big message, as we roll out MasterClasses for the region’s bankers on subjects from tackling ATM fraud to launching housing microfinance to enable more citizens to buy their own housing, is that only a banking sector in another region, with fewer challenges, and fewer opportunities, can afford not to participate in the central point of thinking, debate and decision-making on regional banking development.
We cannot ignore the vital difference our banking industry can make to our economies and to our lives.
We need to find ways of funding housing for the poor. We need to find ways of improving banking for the poor. We need to ensure that customers’ funds are safe and secure. We need to equip businesses to manufacture and trade to their fullest potential.
Ours is a wake-up call, and an urgent appeal, to everyone in banking, and all in the media to focus on resolving our banking challenges now, with the best the world has to offer, and through our own innovations.
On which note, I would like to introduce our speakers for today, who are focussed every day on these very issues, and who have sponsored the fifth AITEC banking conference in Nairobi, as an opportunity to accelerate our banking development, and give us the banking platform we all need to be in place.