ECA Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe, who stressed the importance of digital financial inclusion platforms for Africa's future development, underscored the positive impact working in partnership with Ant Financial - an affiliate of the Alibaba Group - mainly in the digital financial arena.
"We are bringing Ant Financial, which has the largest platform for financial inclusion and assists people with very small financial capacity to be involved in the society," ECA's statement quoted Songwe as saying.
"So we are thinking about what platforms we can put together to ensure that not only big companies take advantage of the AfCFTA but also small companies," she said.
"Essentially, we were talking about information technology and the power of IT for financial, social and political inclusion," she added.
The Executive Secretary further noted that digital financial inclusion platforms could help Africa realize the global sustainable development goals (SDGs) as well as the continental Agenda 2063, the ECA said on Monday.
"Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063 say we should leave no one behind, and many people have been asking what happens to SMEs with the AfCFTA," Songwe said.
Noting that Ant Financial runs one of the world's largest online payment platforms, valued at 150 billion U.S dollars, Songwe also underscored that Africa has an "opportunity to leapfrog technology for social, financial and political inclusion" by working with the Chinese giant.
Ant Financial CEO Jing Xiandong said that his company serves over 650 million people on a daily basis and that the company's vast reach has involved over the years.
"We have expanded well beyond China and are recording tremendous success in our effort to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor in many other countries such as India, the Philippines and more," Jing said.
Jing further said that he would like to replicate his company's success in Africa so that financial inclusion can be enhanced in the continent.
According to the ECA, the delegations from Ant Financial also met with senior officials of the ECA, in which they "expressed their willingness to collaborate with the Commission to foster inclusive growth on the continent."
Songwe further highlighted the importance of digital IDs, noting that "We have many displaced people and refugees on the continent without proper official identity. We know that without an identity you are not a complete citizen and life can be challenging."
"So we are trying to see how we can go from getting identities to getting financial and social inclusion particularly for youth and women," she said.