African policymakers launch groundbreaking mobile financial services initiative 'AMPI'


ZANZIBAR — African policymakers and regulators from Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) member institutions gathered to launch the first African Mobile Phone Financial Services Policy Initiative (AMPI) on 14-15 February 2013 in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

Hosted by Bank of Tanzania (BoT), Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) and AFI, participants at this event included high-level representatives from 18 African regulatory institutions. Stakeholders, such as high-level representatives from financial services providers, telecommunications companies and international development agencies, also participated in the meeting.

Attendees reflected on effective methods to support policy reforms for mobile financial services (MFS) in Africa within a regional framework. Following those discussions, strategic objectives, governance structure and logistical arrangements for AMPI were agreed upon and formulated into the Zanzibar Declaration, which was released by the participating policymakers at the conclusion of the meeting. 

Additionally, CBK Governor Njuguna Ndung'u was elected to a one-year tenure as Chair of AMPI, and Banque Centrale des Etats de l'Afrique de l'Ouest (BCEAO) Governor Tiémoko Meyliet Kone was appointed Vice Chair.

The governors in attendance also decided to form the AMPI Help Desk composed of members from six sub-regions.

“The benefit of expanding mobile financial services to Africa’s unbanked is undeniable,” said Governor Ndung’u. “Together we have the experience, the knowledge and now a common regional commitment to make Africa the world leader in this field, through smart, secure and practical policies as well as cost-effective delivery channels.”

AMPI is expected to become the primary platform for AFI's African members to provide high-level leadership in the overall development of MFS policy and regulatory frameworks, coordinate efforts of regional peer learning and exchange, and share knowledge along with regional experiences — all of which will broaden knowledge and promote MFS policy development throughout the whole of the AFI Network.

The AMPI concept was first introduced one year ago at a forum held in Zanzibar. The African leaders within the AFI Network then followed up on the idea during the 2012 AFI Global Policy Forum (GPF) held in Cape Town, South Africa, where it was agreed that such an initiative would benefit the region, support and compliment national Maya Declaration Commitments for MFS, and serve to improve the knowledge and experience of the entire AFI membership.

AMPI will use a partnership model facilitated through cooperation among policymakers and regulators, the private sector, development partners and research institutions. The initiative’s framework will enable members to determine effective policy solutions for advancing MFS across the African continent while recognizing the unique circumstances, environments, conditions and needs of each respective nation.

AMPI will serve as a mechanism to drive responsible uptake of the use of MFS in Africa, and will contribute to both mutual learning and best practices.

The movement toward regional groups within the AFI Network has grown significantly in recent years. AFI members from the Pacific Islands have been collaborating regionally through the AFI Pacific Islands Working Group (PIWG). Meanwhile in Latin America and the Caribbean, AFI members are scheduled to meet next week to discuss their own regional possibilities at the "Smart policies for mobile finance in the Americas: The next financial inclusion breakthrough?" conference in Cartagena, Colombia.

“These regional efforts show how AFI members are not just talking about solving today's financial inclusion challenges, but also taking action to make those solutions come to life,” said Alfred Hannig, Executive Director at AFI. “Africa is the role model in both pushing the financial inclusion frontier significantly outward and in inventing new models of collaboration based on knowledge sharing and peer learning.”