Africa's financial systems face challenges across many dimensions, as discussed in the report financing Africa: through the crisis and beyond. The analysis in that report was based partly on several detailed background papers that are included in this volume. The next six chapters are written by experts in their respective areas and provide an in-depth analysis of these challenges and present possible solutions. In this introduction, the authors provide an overview of the different chapters and how they are related to each other and the main volume. The three chapters in first part focus on key challenges concerned with access to financial services, including financial and operational deficiencies in the microfinance market, reaping the benefits from the technological revolution of retail banking, and deepening and broadening agricultural finance across Africa. The three chapters thus each cover different aspects with a different focus, ranging from an institutional approach to a focus on innovation as a driver of financial broadening to an important element of financial infrastructure to a specific sector. The second part includes the fourth chapter, it involves documents the sizable need for additional housing in many African countries, based on these countries' continuous population growth and an ongoing urbanization trend. The third part includes fifth chapter, which discuss the repercussions of regulatory reforms in Europe and North America for African regulators as well as local challenges. The fourth part includes the sixth chapter, which is the final chapter of this volume. It discusses the politics of financial sector reform in Africa and, more specifically, the space needed for an activist role for government to help create the markets and coordination mechanisms necessary for financial markets to deepen and broaden.