The editorial

The editorial by Valérie-Noëlle KODJO DIOP

Innovation & CSR Director
Africa, Mediterranean Basin and Overseas
Société Générale 



Our African cities must now turn to a more sustainable development model. They have to address social inequalities, the effects of climate change and a somewhat anarchic and non-inclusive approach to urban planning.

It is therefore urgent to think about a more “sustainable” city, a term that is nowadays unavoidable, at the risk of being often overused, or always limited to its “green” acceptance. Indeed, beyond the environmental dimension of sustainable city, there are stronger pillars that contribute to the objectives of sustainable development ( 17 SDG), among which we can mention: waste treatment, access to clean energy at an affordable cost, access to drinking water, smart administration, responsible production and consumption, access to education, training, health and well-being for all…

All these pillars are axes to build the sustainable city in the broadest sense. Plus, because two out of three people are expected to live in cities by 2050 (UN report), it is also high time to balance and strengthen the links between urban and rural areas. This could prevent major rural exodus movements and thus promote the maintenance and development of an entire ecosystem, mainly around agriculture in the rural areas around these new cities.

Sustainable cities, a new paradigm: what role can the bank play in them?

At the heart of the city, at the center of the lives of its inhabitants, the bank must anticipate and support the positive transformations of the world. Today, the bank model is strongly shaken, (1) exposed on the one hand to demanding regulations that complicate the conduct of its business and force it to find alternative distribution networks at a lower cost (2) and on the other hand exposed on increased competition from new players who have taken over its “playground “. Not to mention the growing demands of customers seeking more meaning and embracing a new culture of immediate service.
In a connected world, we consume banking in new ways and must therefore we have to design it in new ways: tomorrow’s banking is part of daily life, accessible to all, in the pocket, at the end of a click, at the right time.
Finally, and above all, the bank relies on its own willingness to restore meaning to its action, in line with the aspirations of users and citizens, with priority given to young people, who are more sensitive than ever to environmental and ethical issues.

Bank as a platform

At the heart of the city, at the center of the lives of its inhabitants, the bank must anticipate and support the positive transformations of the world. Today, the bank model is strongly shaken, (1) exposed on the one hand to demanding regulations that complicate the conduct of its business and force it to find alternative distribution networks at a lower cost (2) and on the other hand exposed on increased competition from new players who have taken over its “playground “. Not to mention the growing demands of customers seeking more meaning and embracing a new culture of immediate service.
Enrich traditional businesses? The trend is already well underway: innovative mobile payment services are up and running, discussions are underway to integrate Fintech solutions. Other solutions will probably be added – always through platforms, such as access to micro-credits, crowdfunding,…
How about going further? Remembering that, when it comes to reinventing itself, the most beautiful asset of the bank is trust? By fully understanding what a “trusted third party” can bring, the bank is able to extend the limits of its supposed core businesses and make available, for the benefit of new projects, the traditional distribution networks of local branches, as well as alternative networks (including mobile phones). Tomorrow, the bank can become a place of storage, a place of sharing, a place of learning, a place of convergence such as a palaver tree 4.0, and propose the services of new players aggregated to its platform.
In the future, the bank can become a key player in sustainable mobility, renewable energies, water and waste management, access to education and health, because the bank is that trusted third party essential to all these projects at the heart of our daily lives.
Entrepreneurs, we only have 10 years together to dream of the bank of tomorrow, the bank at the heart of the sustainable city!

It starts here with your ideas!