UFH Holds its 27th Inaugural Lecture

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“Digital finance has emerged as a potential lever to accelerate financial inclusion and aid poverty reduction. Relative to traditional financial services, digital finance can improve financial services' speed, cost-effectiveness, and accessibility. These benefits mainly accrue through the provision of payment services.”

That was a quick view expressed by the University of Fort Hare’s Professor Munacinga Simatele, a Professor from the Faculty of Management and Commerce, during her Professorial Inaugural lecture held at the Miriam Makeba Hall in East London on June 7th.


Professor Simatele describes herself as an economist focusing on transformative research with a particular interest in development finance that addresses poverty and marginalization.

Her research provides a deeper understanding of finance for development and how the poor interact with the financial sector. It further investigates how informality, small businesses, and financial markets can contribute and be harnessed to reduce poverty. 

Throughout her academic career and extensive years of research, Prof Simatele became more interested in understanding the role of finance and how the financial sector impacted the lives of the marginalized.

“I realized that the problem of poverty was far more complex than I had realized. Though the role of finance was pivotal, development depended on complex institutional setups which are highly affected by the ubiquity of information asymmetries,” she said.

Her current research project focuses on financial market duality, business subsistence, and poverty research, which investigates how subsistence businesses are funded and affect livelihoods in South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Zambia.

Prof Simatele has extensive practical experience managing education and development-related projects and providing consulting and technical services and support to different organizations.

The Professor is very involved at UFH. She also sits on a couple of boards and holds various leadership positions. She is determined at keeping her stripes and make waves at the university as she is currently part of a collaborative supervision project between the University of Hare, Stellenbosch University, and Bath University in the United Kingdom.

Professor Simatele has published 23 articles in accredited and peer-reviewed journals, 12 conference papers during the past five years, and three book chapters.

“My research shows that the realization of the full benefits of digital finance is hindered by poor infrastructure, lack of consumer protection, and the absence and fragmentation of support markets and institutions, she said.

During the inaugural, Prof Simatele extended her gratitude to the university’s management, not only for giving her the opportunity to give her inaugural lecture but for creating an environment that has made it possible for her to stand there on that day.

In concluding her lecture, Prof Simatele mentioned an old African proverb that was relevant at that point; The best way to eat the elephant standing in your path is to cut it up into little pieces.

"Just as cutting an elephant requires several weapons, addressing poverty needs several instruments. I firmly believe that digital finance can contribute to cutting the elephant of poverty into smaller pieces if an enabling environment is created," concluded Prof Simatele.

Vice-Chancellor Sakhela Buhlungu said, “This is the 2nd Inaugural lecture this year and the focus has been on having female professors inaugurated and he encouraged that our female academic are rising to the challenge”

 By Thandeka Ntlonti