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Digital finance and SME financial inclusion in Africa

Umar Habibu Umar (Department of Accounting, Yusuf Maitama Sule University Kano, Kano, Nigeria)
Abubakar Jamilu Baita (Department of Economics, Yusuf Maitama Sule University Kano, Kano, Nigeria)
Issa Hamadou (Faculty of Economics and Business, Universitas Islam Internasional Indonesia, Depok, Indonesia)
Muhamad Abduh (Department of Accounting and Finance, Universiti Brunei Darussalam School of Business and Economics, Gadong, Brunei Darussalam)

African Journal of Economic and Management Studies

ISSN: 2040-0705

Article publication date: 14 June 2024




This study examined the impact of digital finance on SME financial inclusion in Africa.


The study obtained data from the International Monetary Fund's Financial Access Survey and World Development Indicators covering the period from 2011 to 2022. Heteroskedastic panels corrected standard errors (HPCSE) and feasible generalized least squares regressions were employed in the analysis.


The findings indicate that digital finance (volume and intensity) significantly improves SME financial inclusion in Africa.

Research limitations/implications

Due to the paucity of data, the study covered only 17 African countries over 12 years (2011–2022).

Practical implications

The findings imply the need for African central banks and other relevant regulatory bodies to establish effective regulations mandating Deposit Money Banks and other financial institutions to operate agent banking. This would facilitate access to financial services for SME owners. Such measures could financially include more unbanked SME owners, especially those in rural areas. Moreover, these initiatives must be strongly supported by introducing user-friendly digital financial technologies and registering more financial technology (fintech) companies.

Social implications

Implementing necessary measures to enhance access to digital financial services for SMEs in Africa is likely to reduce unemployment and poverty and contribute to the economic growth and development of the region.


This study provides empirical evidence showing how digital finance affects SME financial inclusion in Africa.



Umar, U.H., Baita, A.J., Hamadou, I. and Abduh, M. (2024), "Digital finance and SME financial inclusion in Africa", African Journal of Economic and Management Studies, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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