Fidelity Bank wants tech to drive innovation in agric sector

Julian Opuni, MD of Fidelity Bank Ghana

Fidelity Bank Ghana, the largest privately-owned indigenous bank, has announced a dedicated space for Agric-Tech within the Fidelity Young Entrepreneurs Fund (FYEF) through an upcoming Agric-Tech competition.

This initiative aims to support the development of groundbreaking solutions that address pressing challenges faced by players in the Ghanaian agriculture value chain.

Julian Opuni, Managing Director at Fidelity Bank, made this announcement during the Agriculture and Fintech Forum at the 3i Africa Summit.

The forum, hosted by Fidelity Bank, brought together stakeholders to bridge the gap between agriculture and fintech and showcase how technology can overcome longstanding barriers in the agricultural value chain.

In his keynote address titled ‘Seeding Innovation: The Convergence of Agriculture and FinTech in Africa’, Mr. Opuni emphasized the crucial role of youth in driving technological adoption and innovation within the agricultural sector.

He highlighted the demographic advantage of Africa, where 60percent of the population is under 25 years old, but noted the underutilization of this potential due to the perception of agriculture as an unappealing profession for the young.

“Africa’s youth, aged under 25, make up 60percent of the population, with over 200 million young people residing on the continent,” Mr. Opuni stated. “Despite this demographic advantage, the agriculture sector remains largely untapped by Africa’s youth, who often view farming as a profession for the elderly.”

Mr. Opuni stressed the need to change this perception and equip young Ghanaians with the necessary support and resources to actively participate in the agricultural sector’s transformation.

“This will not only address youth unemployment but also ensure the sustainability and growth of Africa’s agricultural sector,” he declared.

Building upon the existing FYEF programme, which provides financial and non-financial support to youth-led businesses, particularly those in the agriculture sector, a dedicated space for Agric-Tech will be carved out within the FYEF framework.

“Access to opportunities that drive innovation is key to motivating youth involvement in Agric-Tech,” Mr. Opuni explained. “This Agric-Tech competition aims to incentivize the development of innovative solutions that will address critical issues faced by Ghanaian agriculture, ultimately leading to a revolutionized sector.”

Mr. Opuni acknowledged the numerous challenges hindering Africa’s agricultural productivity, including limited investment, inadequate resources, and a lack of access to technology and funding.  He pointed out the risk aversion of financial institutions due to historically high non-performing loan rates in the agricultural sector. However, he emphasized the importance of open dialogue between banks, stakeholders, and policymakers.

“This forum represents a critical step forward,” Mr. Opuni declared. “By fostering collaboration, we can work towards building a data-driven ecosystem.

This will allow banks to more accurately assess risk, design targeted financial products for farmers, and ultimately bridge the financing gap for agricultural businesses.”

Fidelity Bank’s leadership in the Agriculture and Fintech Forum at the 3i Africa Summit, coupled with the creation of a dedicated Agric-Tech space within the FYEF program, demonstrates a strong commitment to supporting young innovators and fostering a more vibrant and technologically advanced agricultural sector in Ghana.

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