Peer Advisory on In-Country Implementation of National Financial Inclusion Strategies (NFIS)

Implementation of a multitude of financial inclusion initiatives to scale up financial inclusion is heightening amongst the AFI members. The AFI network currently has 115 financial regulating institutions representing 94 countries. Of these, 63 member institutions have made 560 Maya Commitments, 38% of which have already been achieved and the remaining 62% recording good progress. 71 of the 560 commitments directly relate to implementing a national financial inclusion strategy (NFIS) through quality interventions. It has been empirically proven that countries with NFIS have achieved higher levels of financial inclusion.

The achievement by AFI members in meeting various national inclusion targets has indeed been inspiring for other members. This has contributed to more members defining ambitious financial targets for themselves and committing more resources to its realization. Most members now have exclusive teams committed to financial inclusion work and some are in the process of establishing a committed Financial Inclusion Unit/Department to implement the financial inclusion plans they have designed for themselves. 

Enhanced focus on financial inclusion has necessitated capacity development of staff of AFI members on NFIS and some members with proven experiences have come forward to provide hand holding support to other members. In June, 2017 Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) hosted a delegation of AFI Members for a week-long event on implementation of NFIS. The participating AFI member institutions were: 
•    Banco de Moçambique
•    Bank of Sierra Leone
•    Central Bank of Lesotho
•    Central Bank of Seychelles
•    La Banque Centrale des Etats de l'Afrique de l'Ouest (BCEAO)
•    Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan

The week long programme covered topics that range from developing a NFIS, its implementation and monitoring, and evaluation of the same. Participants said this peer advisory was “very practical” that will be very helpful for them to implement the strategy. Multiple sessions received “exceeded expectations” as a feedback. 

“Was impressed by commitment and lively deliberation in the technical committee meeting. Once more a reflection of good coordination.”

- feedback received on the Financial Inclusion Working Group Meeting

Effective coordination amongst the relevant stakeholders is critical to the successful implementation of a NFIS. strategy. During the pre-course survey, ensuring effective coordination was identified as a key challenge by the participants. The event was thus arranged to coincide with the quarterly meetings of the Financial Inclusion Working Groups, which are part of the governance and the coordination mechanism of Nigeria’s NFIS. The participants attended the meetings as observers and said, “the meeting reflected outstanding coordination by Secretariat and commitment by stakeholders.” 

CBN also arranged for a visit to two financial institutions — Hasal Microfinance Bank and Diamond Bank — to share examples of implementation of financial inclusion policies. Participants noted that, “We learnt lots of practical experience with these institutions. The cooperation from these institutions with other stakeholders is really admirable and commendable.” 

AFI sincerely thanks CBN for their generous contribution of valuable knowledge and resources for the benefit of network members. Participants commented that, “One could tell that this was a well thought out program. The topics chosen and presented on have equipped me with knowledge and skills to effectively coordinate NFIS in my country”. 

We also thank the participating delegates for their commitment to learning and contributing to financial inclusion. The Peer Advisory Programme does not end with the visit. The participating institutions will attend other AFI Member Trainings on related topics such as the Training on Financial Inclusion Strategy and Data scheduled from 7 August, 2017 and also attend the Global Policy Forum in September, 2017 to further their learning and sharing. A monitoring framework is in place to track the effectiveness of this capacity building initiative and its impact over time. 

As more AFI members join the group of countries that have NFIS and initiate their process of implementation, AFI will strive to arrange similar events for these members because the participants have recommended this peer advisory event for all other AFI members. “The program of similar nature should be organized for member countries. Much gratitude to AFI and CBN.”