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The Rise of Financial Services in Africa: An Historical Perspective

Developing Africa’s Financial Services

ISBN: 978-1-78714-187-2, eISBN: 978-1-78714-186-5

Publication date: 8 May 2017


The development of banking in Africa followed the demand of exchange networks from traditional indigenous economies to colonial exchange with the European world. The establishment of European banking institutions reflected the needs of the capitalist economy introduced by colonialism. The banking management of late nineteenth century and early twentieth century European banks adhered to the interests of shareholders. This chapter shows the emergence of well-managed banks in Africa, but after decolonization the political economy of African independence resulted in state capturing of financial institutions in most African countries. The South African banking system developed in close adherence to the British model. State-owned post-independence banks in Africa failed to deliver the development envisaged. The chapter shows the adverse impact of global economic developments on Africa, resulting in high debt levels. Structural adjustment of African economies and new market-oriented policies allowed the development of locally owned private banking institutions. The high-cost structure of the formal banking system from the dominant South African banks incentivised the mobile money innovation, an arena where African entrepreneurs lead global markets. Financial inclusion remains low in Africa.



Verhoef, G. (2017), "The Rise of Financial Services in Africa: An Historical Perspective", Redford, D.T. (Ed.) Developing Africa’s Financial Services, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 3-42.



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