AFI Meets the Press Ahead of 2016 Global Policy Forum

  • Reserve Bank of Fiji Governor Barry Whiteside, right, Alliance for Financial Inclusion Executive Director Alfred Hannig, middle, and  Bank of Zambia Deputy Governor Dr. Tukiya Kankasa-Mabula, answer questions at the 2016 Global Policy Forum press briefing 6 September 2016 in Nadi, Fiji.
    Reserve Bank of Fiji Governor Barry Whiteside, right, Alliance for Financial Inclusion Executive Director Alfred Hannig, middle, and Bank of Zambia Deputy Governor Dr. Tukiya Kankasa-Mabula, answer questions at the 2016 Global Policy Forum press briefing 6 September 2016 in Nadi, Fiji.
Reserve Bank of Fiji Governor Barry Whiteside, right, Alliance for Financial Inclusion Executive Director Alfred Hannig, middle, and Bank of Zambia Deputy Governor Dr. Tukiya Kankasa-Mabula, answer questions at the 2016 Global Policy Forum press briefing 6 September 2016 in Nadi, Fiji.

AFI Meets the Press Ahead of 2016 Global Policy Forum

2016-09-06

At a joint press briefing held today ahead of the 2016 AFI Global Policy Forum, Governor Barry Whiteside of the Reserve Bank of Fiji, AFI Executive Director Alfred Hannig, and Dr. Tukiya Kankasa-Mabula, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Zambia and Chair of the AFI Gender and Women’s Financial Inclusion Committee (GWFIC), provided a preview of what was described as the biggest and most complex GPF to date.

Governor Whiteside expressed that it was an honor for the Reserve Bank of Fiji to co-host the Global Policy Forum with AFI, which will welcome 540 delegates from 82 countries to Denarau Island. The Honorable Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji, Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, who has been a champion for financial inclusion, will open the eighth annual AFI Global Policy Forum on Thursday, September 8.

Asked how bringing the Global Policy Forum to Fiji will benefit the region, Governor Whiteside responded that sharing experiences and collaborating with financial inclusion experts from around the world will help the Reserve Bank of Fiji to address challenging issues, such as increasing usage of mobile money and expanding access to formal financial services, especially for women in Fiji, which a recent survey revealed have 52% access compared to 68% for men. This gender gap, he said, will be addressed in Fiji’s new financial inclusion strategic plan launched in July 2016, and that the RBF will make new Maya Declaration commitments this week that incorporate gender.

Mr. Hannig pointed to the milestones AFI will mark at this year’s Global Policy Forum: 115 member institutions (and growing), the first GPF as a fully independent, member-owned organization, and the five-year anniversary of the AFI Maya Declaration, a global framework that allows AFI members to make concrete national commitments to financial inclusion. This year’s GPF, he said, will have the most complex agenda to date, focusing on eight key areas: women’s financial inclusion, consumer empowerment, de-risking, technology, partnerships, data and SMEs, and green finance.

When we leave Nadi, he said, we will have more than 60 Maya Declaration commitments and a sharper focus on creating smart policies and regulations that close the gender gap in financial access. With 54% of the world’s unbanked living in countries with Maya Declaration commitments, the work of AFI members at the Global Policy Forum will be key to elevating financial inclusion, alleviating poverty and achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. He thanked Governor Whiteside for leading the way in financial inclusion and providing an example to AFI members in other regions.

Dr. Tukiya Kankasa-Mabula, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Zambia and Chair of the new AFI Gender and Women’s Financial Inclusion Committee (GWFIC) raised the common challenges women experience in accessing financial services, such as cultural barriers, lower educational status and financial literacy, a lack of assets, work and family responsibilities, and geographical distance, particularly in rural areas, that make it difficult to access financial institutions.

However, she explained how AFI is working to move gender from the fringes into the mainstream, through research, gender-disaggregated data, harnessing partnerships and collaborating with stakeholders, especially women themselves. One major outcome of the GPF, she said, will be an Action Plan on Gender and Women’s Financial Inclusion, which will provide a framework for AFI member countries to bridge the persistent gap in access to finance.