Archived Webinar

Digital Ag Series - Innovations in Rural Digital Financial Services and Remittances in Africa

"Digital financial services and innovative technologies can provide a comparative advantage especially for expanding outreach to unbanked/remote communities and reducing the cost of financial intermediation."

Digitalization and access to data in rural areas have been crucial in the design and delivery of a new generation of financial services including a diversity of credit, savings, payments, remittances, insurance which can reach rural poor people as they build livelihoods and confront economic, environmental, and social challenges. Digital financial services and innovative technologies can provide a comparative advantage especially for expanding outreach to unbanked/remote communities and reducing the cost of financial intermediation. While there has been an unprecedented growth of digital financial services in Africa with almost half of 700 million overall users worldwide driven primarily by mobile money further scaling other financial services would require a range of support from new or updated national financial sector policies, enabling regulatory frameworks, infrastructure investments, and digital literacy.

Improved means to gather and safely assess poor rural people’s credit profiles continue to be a notable barrier to increased access, as is the need to de-risk financial services through digital innovations, financial literacy and an appropriate mix of products and services tailored to meet the needs of rural clients. Meeting these challenges will be critical for inclusive and sustainable rural and food system transformation.

Financial inclusion and remittances have a leading role to improve livelihood development in rural communities. Many millions of households in Africa have benefited from remittances from family and friends with an almost 65% increase in mobile payments and remittances in 2020 itself. Similarly, diaspora investments can also have a positive impact to foster investments and promote increased access to financial services in rural communities. As focus and interest in remittances to Africa increase, the resilience of these financial flows during the pandemic has highlighted once more the need to intensify efforts to unleash their impact on development. While opportunities to scale remittance services are high, challenges remain, including improving infrastructure, expanding digitalization, better data collection, supportive policies, and public-private investments.

About the Presenters

Parmesh Shah

Global Lead, Data-Driven Digital Agriculture, Agriculture, and Food Global Practice, The World Bank

Parmesh Shah is the Global Lead for Data-Driven Digital Agriculture at the World Bank. He provides leadership to Bank’s work in these areas and supports the development of global knowledge and learning in these areas to offer solutions to clients and other development partners. His current areas of interest are making markets and public services work for the poor, social entrepreneurship, digital and data-based innovations in agriculture and rural development, climate-smart agriculture, agriculture and technology-enabled start-ups, venture and patient capital for innovation, promotion of on-farm, off-farm, and digital jobs and public-private and people partnerships for rural poverty reduction. He is currently involved in developing a global program on scaling up data-driven digital agriculture involving data platforms and establishing ecosystems for innovation, entrepreneurship, and incubation. He holds a D Phil in Development Studies from the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and a B Tech degree in Agricultural Engineering from Pantnagar in India.

Thouraya Triki

Director, Sustainable Production, Markets and Institutions Division (PMI), IFAD

Thouraya Triki is the Director of the Sustainable Production, Markets and Institutions Division (PMI), IFAD’s technical division supporting regional teams to design and implement investment projects and grants aimed at reducing rural poverty and promoting food security. She also oversees IFAD's Private Sector unit in charge of non-sovereign private sector operations and initiatives. Before joining IFAD, Triki worked at the African Development Bank (AfDB) as Manager in the Microeconomics, Institutions and Development Impact Division, in Abidjan. From 2013 to 2017, she was Chief Country Economist at the AfDB North Africa Regional Department based in Tunis. She also played a leading role in setting up the AfDB Public-Private Partnerships Hub for North Africa and the Souk At-tanmia program promoting youth employment. From 2008 to 2013 Triki held a senior and then principal economist position at AfDB where she helped set up the Additionality and Development Outcome Assessment (ADOA) team. Before joining the AfDB, Triki worked in academia – teaching finance in Canada, France and Tunisia, and managing and consulting with private sector businesses. Triki holds a Ph.D. in finance (risk management) from HEC Montréal. 


James Marc Sousa-Shields

Lead Regional Technical Specialist, Rural Finance and Markets, PMI, IFAD

James Marc de Sousa-Shields, a national of Canada, is IFAD’s Lead Regional Technical Specialist in rural finance and markets in the NEN region. Prior to working with IFAD, Marc was Managing Partner of ES Global Consulting, Mexico, where he worked in a range of sectors from inclusive finance, impact investing, to corporate sustainability, with experience in over 40 countries. Prior to this, he was the founder and Executive Director of the Social Investment Organization of Canada (now Responsible Investment Association of Canada). Marc has an MA in Regional Economic Geography from the University of Toronto, in Toronto, Canada. He is the author of Invest Like You Give a Damn (New Society Publishers) and various essays and articles on sustainable economic and corporate development.

Nika Naghavi

Director, Strategic Projects, MFS Africa

Nika Naghavi is the Director for Strategic Projects at MFS Africa. In this role, she identifies and executes strategic initiatives aiming at sustaining and accelerating growth and entrenching MFS Africa as a key player in the payment ecosystem. Prior to this, she led the Data and Insights portfolio of the GSMA’s Mobile Money Programme. Here, she supported the growth of the mobile money and digital inclusion sectors. She has authored several key reports including the State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money, strategic publications on platform-based strategy, and potential pathways for evolving the mobile money business model. She produced the very first large-sample quantitative analysis on the expansion of digital financial services in collaboration with Harvard Business School and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She also published the first-ever comprehensive analysis of the costs of international remittances via mobile money. Nika holds a Ph.D. in Telecommunications Engineering from King’s College London. (mailto: )

Pedro De Vasconcelos

Senior Technical Specialist, Coordinator, Financing Facility for Remittances, PMI, IFAD

Pedro de Vasconcelos is the Programme Manager of the multi-donor Financing Facility for Remittances (FFR) of IFAD. He is an internationally recognized expert in his field and contributes actively to national, regional and global policy agendas placing remittances, migration, financial inclusion on the global agendas of major development institutions and governments. He is also the lead author of the biannual IFAD flagship publication Sending Money Home and originator and coordinator of IFAD's International Day of Family Remittances (IDFR). Before joining the Fund, De Vasconcelos designed, launched and managed the Inter-American Development Bank's Multilateral Investment Fund’s (FOMIN) strategy and programme on remittances and migrant investment. He also launched and coordinated FOMIN's ICT for development programme. De Vasconcelos holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Business from the University of Toulouse-France and a Master’s Degree in International Business and Management from the University of Paris IV, La Sorbonne. (mailto:

​Hakima El Alami

Director, Payment Systems and Instruments Oversight and Financial Inclusion, Bank Al-Maghrib (Central Bank of Morocco)

Hakima El Alami is the Director of Payment Systems and Instruments Oversight in the Financial Inclusion Department responsible for conducting national strategies related to payment systems and financial inclusion. The Department is also in charge of implementing of regulation and oversight framework of FMIs and means of payment. She joined Bank Al-Maghrib as an executive in charge of financial analyses and corporates ratings, and also assessment of the quality of the private debt instruments within the context of central bank advances. Since 2003, she was appointed as a Manager in the Monetary and Exchange Operations Department where she spent 13 years in charge of cashless means of payment and payment systems oversight. El Alami holds a higher studies diploma from Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, and a Diploma of Advanced Studies in economic organizations engineering, Complex systems modeling, from the University of AIX-Marseille III. She is also Alumni of Fletcher School Leadership Program for Financial Inclusion (FLPFI) at TUFTS University, Boston

Dilip Ratha

Head of KNOMAD and Lead Economist, Migration and Remittances, Social Protection and Jobs Global Practice, The World Bank

Dilip Ratha is head of KNOMAD and lead economist, Migration and Remittances for the Social Protection and Jobs Global Practice at the World Bank. He is a thought leader on migration, remittances, and innovative financing for development, including diaspora bonds, future-flow securitization, and shadow sovereign credit ratings. He was an invited TEDGlobal speaker in 2014 – his TED talk, with over 1.45 million views, has inspired many start-ups. He is the Founder of KNOMAD, Migrating out of Poverty Research Program Consortium, and African Institute of Remittances. Prior to the World Bank, he has worked at Credit Agricole Indosuez W.I. Carr Securities (Hong Kong and Singapore), and the Policy Group (Delhi), and taught at the Indian Institute of Management (Ahmedabad) and Indian Statistical Institute (Delhi). He has a Ph.D. in Economics from India.

Gladys H. Morales

Senior Innovation Adviser, Change Delivery and Innovation Unit (CDI), IFAD

Gladys H. Morales is Senior Innovation Adviser at the Change Delivery and Innovation Unit at the Office of the President and the Vice-President of IFAD. She has led the digital transformation of the Government and UN agencies’ projects in Latin America, Asia and Europe. Before joining IFAD, Gladys was an Advisor at the International Poverty Reduction Centre in China (IPRCC) where she led the design of digital platforms and established partnerships and knowledge networks for the Global Poverty Reduction and Inclusive Growth (GPIG) Portal. Gladys is a graduate from the Executive Programme on Digital Business Leadership at Columbia Business School, Columbia University in New York and the Executive Programme in Artificial Intelligence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She has a Master in Development Economics and International Cooperation from the University of Rome, Tor Vergata and a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service and International Economics from Georgetown University. (mailto:

Brenda Gunde

Senior Technical Specialist, ICT4D, PMI, IFAD  

Brenda Gunde is IFAD’s Global Senior Technical Specialist for ICT4D and is responsible for providing technical advisory and leadership in the adoption of digital technologies to support smallholder farmers. Her career constitutes of providing leadership in business engagement and digital transformation, especially the use of digital technologies to support rural development. Prior to IFAD she was an ICT Specialist for UNICEF and has a long career in the non-Governmental sector leveraging ICT Portfolio to enable rural transformation. She holds an MBA in ICT Management from the University of Leicester and is completing an MSc in Sustainable Development with the University of London-SOAS. (mailto:

Questions Submitted


- May 7, 2022


- Apr 10, 2022
Very interesting

jose luis

- Apr 1, 2022
muy bueno


- Mar 27, 2022
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