Navigating COVID-19: Africa Women and Digital Financial Access in South Africa and Nigeria

Not unlike the rest of the world, COVID-19 related socioeconomic shocks in South Africa and Nigeria are disproportionately experienced by women due to persistent pre-pandemic gender inequalities that affect access to economic opportunities. Digital financial services (DFS) have been lauded as a powerful solution to build post-COVID 19 macroeconomic resilience by ensuring that basic financial services as well as financial assistance are available to mitigate the ongoing triple crisis (health, economic and societal) created by the pandemic. But there are vulnerabilities to consider when deploying digital solutions, including other dimensions of inequality that cannot be mitigated solely by digital financial inclusion or the introduction of new digital technologies. These inequalities are multidimensional and have a decisive impact on who actually benefits from DFS. There needs to be well planned holistic interventions in Africa that are fit for purpose, contextually relevant, and facilitate greater cooperation across seemingly unrelated policy areas to make a difference in African women’s lives, including and especially regarding financial inclusion.