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Frequently Asked Questions

About ADFI

What does ADFI stand for?

ADFI stands for Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI).

What is ADFI’s objective?

ADFI’s objective is to address the systemic barriers to DFS growth and uptake by making strategic and catalytic investments in the DFS ecosystem throughout Africa. Its overarching objective is to ensure 332 million more Africans, of which 60% are women, have access to the formal economy by 2030.

How is ADFI structured?

ADFI is structured as a blended finance facility composed of a multi-donor special fund with a target envelope of USD 100 million and resourced with grant money from partners and debt funding of up to USD 300 million from the ordinary capital resources of the African Development Bank.

What are ADFI’s areas of intervention?

ADFI will intervene along the following four key pillars in order to scale innovative digital financial inclusion and increased integration throughout the continent. Gender is a cross-cutting theme across all four pillars.

  • Pillar I. Digital Infrastructure including payment systems upgrade, development and interoperability and digital identification
  • Pillar II. Policy and Regulation including diagnostics, feasibility studies, strategy development and enhancement, regulatory reform and harmonisation
  • Pillar III. Digital Products and Innovation (e.g. digitisation of government payments, digital microproducts e.g. insurance, savings, credit, pension)
  • Pillar IV. Capacity Building for key DFS stakeholders
Is ADFI part of the African Development Bank?

Yes, ADFI is an initiative of the African Development Bank in partnership with its donors and is housed and managed by the Bank. In a bid to meet its objectives ADFI will also leverage the Bank’s administrative and personnel resources across the continent.

Which department at the African Development Bank manages ADFI?

ADFI is managed by the Financial Sector Department (PIFD) of the African Development Bank that is headquartered at the Bank’s offices in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

About Financial Inclusion

What is financial inclusion?

Financial inclusion is the delivery of useful affordable financial products and services that meet the needs of low-income individuals (i.e. transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance) in a responsible and sustainable way.

What is digital financial inclusion?

Digital financial inclusion is digital access to and use of formal financial services by excluded and underserved populations.

What is the status of financial inclusion in Africa?

Although significant progress has been made in Africa, approximately 57% of the adult population have no access to a formal account, be it mobile money or a traditional bank account. Africa is the world leader in adoption of mobile money with 20% of the continent’s adult population having access to a mobile money account compared to the world average of 4.4% (Global Findex 2017)

How will digital financial inclusion contribute to Africa’s development?

Digital financial inclusion is a catalyst for equitable development and inclusive economic growth. Its benefits include:

  • Increased investment as individuals and businesses are brought into the formal financial system
  • Large efficiency gains in the shift from cash to digital payments and from paper to electronic record keeping
  • Productivity gains for governments by reducing leakages in their spending and tax collection
  • Digital payments have the potential to unlock new business models in finance and beyond including e-commerce and on demand services
  • Improved quality of human capital and economy as more women gain access to financial accounts

About ADFI project identification

How are projects for funding assessed?

Projects are assessed in the following manner:

  1. Preliminary vetting of proposals according to agreed criteria by the ADFI coordination unit.
  2. Proposals vetted by the ADFI coordination unit are then filtered through the African Development Bank’s Financial Sector Department (PIFD) Management Committee.
  3. Proposals cleared by the Management Committee are then submitted to the ADFI Governing Council for approval for inclusion into a potential project work program.
  4. Projects cleared for inclusion in the potential work program by the ADFI Governing Council proceed to full project proposal development by the ADFI coordination unit and a Technical Working Committee.
  5. Detailed project proposals are then approved in accordance with ADFI’s governance structure and  applicable thresholds.
What are ADFI’s fund eligibility criteria?

The Call for Proposals is aligned with ADFI’s pillars of intervention and has the following two components:

  1. Lot 1 targeting the following countries: Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Egypt, Guinea, Morocco, Nigeria and Tanzania
  2. Lot 2 targeting regional initiatives

Pillar 1: Digital financial infrastructure

Country level - Technical assistance on interoperability of payment systems, agent networks and merchant acceptance networks; digital registries and alternative credit scoring, increased mobile network coverage, affordable data and digital devices.

Regional level - Technical assistance on interoperability of payment systems,distribution networks, e-commerce platforms.

Pillar 2: Digital Financial Policy & regulation

Country level - Sandboxing/Fintech innovations of policies or testing new digital products and business models; Interoperability regulatory frameworks; and, consumer protection e.g. data privacy, recourse mechanisms, cybersecurity.

Regional level - DFS policies and regulations for cross border remittances; consumer protection e.g. data privacy, recourse mechanisms, cybersecurity; Sandbox policies and testing of new products and business models’ and, e-KYC.

Pillar 3: Digital Financial Products & innovation

Country level - Digitisation of government payments and social transfers; and, digitisation of agriculture value chains and MSMEs.

Regional level - DFS products that have potential for scale, in more than one country, address needs of the base of the pyramid and touch key sectors such as MSME and agriculture.


  • Project viability
  • Applicant’s expertise and track record in relation to proposed project
  • Ability to scale
  • Potential impact of the project 
Who are the eligible beneficiaries of ADFI?

ADFI’s beneficiaries will include banks and non-bank financial institutions, remittance and payment service providers, payment aggregators, electronic or mobile money issuers including mobile network operators, FinTech companies, consumer protection and competition authorities, central banks, telecommunications regulators, government ministries and regional economic organizations entities.

How should potential partners apply for funding?

Potential partners can apply for funding by responding to Call for Proposals published by ADFI on the ADFI and AfDB websites. Based on strategic decisions and subject to approval by the ADFI Governing Council, the coordination unit can develop proposals with specific stakeholders.

How long does it take to hear back from ADFI on a project proposal and project disbursement?

Depending on the scope and complexity of the project and the method of project origination ADFI will respond anywhere from one to three months and three to nine months for disbursement for approved projects.

What is a gender intentional project?

A gender intentional project is one that is designed to reduce gaps in access to resources.  For example, by improving the condition of women and girls.

What is a gender transformative project?

A gender transformative project is one that is designed to transform gender power relations, address root causes of gender inequality, and/or increase empowerment of women and girls.

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