AFI members share knowledge & experience in implementing national strategies to accelerate Burundi 2015-2020 NFIS

Together with Banque de la République du Burundi‏ (BRB), the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) launched a workshop on implementing a National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS), in Bujumbura, Burundi on 28 November, 2018. The workshop facilitated the exchange of knowledge and experiences from AFI members including Bank of Zambia (BoZ), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Bank of Tanzania (BoT) in order to accelerate the implementation of the Burundi 2015-2020 NFIS.

Governor of BRB, Mr. Jean Ciza, and First Deputy Governor, Mr. Melchior Wagara opened the workshop by welcoming over 60 participants from the financial industry and regulatory authorities and thanked AFI and delegates from member institutions for their collaboration and sharing of their respective experience and lessons learned in enabling their national financial inclusion strategies. AFI members present included Dr. Bernard Kibesse, Deputy Governor of BoT, who recently chaired a Joint Learning Program (JLP) in Tanzania, focusing on in-country implementation and measurement of financial inclusion.

NFIS is a continuation of the efforts of the Burundi Government to make financial services and products accessible to all categories of the population. The Burundi 2015-2020 NFIS is intended to remove constraints preventing vulnerable groups of the population from having access to and usage of these services and products — this calls for the introduction of mechanisms to facilitate matching the supply with the demand for financial services and products.

The national strategy is leading a series of measures that require the leadership of the country's authorities and the commitment of other additional stakeholders to create an enabling environment for the takeoff of the access and usage of financial services by the majority of Burundians with a special focus in women, rural population and SMEs.

The workshop featured presentations from AFI members on their experiences and key lessons in implementing NFIS including Diane Bizimana from BRB, who presented on the state of financial inclusion in Burundi.

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Bank of Tanzania (BoT) shared their respective journeys in implementing NFIS from the beginning until the recent revamping of NFIS in their next phases. Mr. Joseph Attah, Deputy Director of CBN shared insights on Development Finance and explained the process CBN followed to identify the benefits of setting up NFIS among different stakeholders. He also explained how the Central Bank had redefined new targets and scope for the revamping of their NFIS in the years to come, focusing on women and excluded rural areas. The sharpened focus identifies specific barriers to financial inclusion including the lack of income, extensive distance to financial access points, lack of knowledge about financial services, high costs of services, and cumbersome requirements from financial service providers.

Deputy Governor, Dr. Bernard Kibesse, and Mr. George Ben Sije, Assistant Manager, BoT shared insights on the Central Bank’s oversight and policies. They shared their experience in facilitating the interaction between different stakeholders with apparent different objectives — mainly FSPs and MNOs. BoT managed to establish a common goal for all of them by balancing those differences, and setting common objectives and mutual opportunities including the customer final benefit.

The Bank of Zambia represented by Mr. Moses Musantu, Senior Analyst shared lessons learned and the journey taken by BoZ in the implementation of the financial consumer protection regulation and market conduct supervision, as well as the financial education approach to improve the financial consumer experience in Zambia, being a presentation highly appreciated by the audience

Participants at the workshop included high-level representatives from the Burundi NFIS Steering Committee, regulators, mobile network operators, development institutions and other prominent members from the public and private sector stakeholders of Burundi’s NFIS.

After concluding the discussions the different participants at the workshop, representing the main stakeholders implementing the NFIS in Burundi shared a set of key recommendations to be considered by the NFIS Steering Committee of Burundi for the next phase in the implementation of their NFIS. These recommendations included issues related to enabling interoperability and interconnectedness setting to all the financial service providers, and continuing the efforts in implementing the financial consumer protection and financial literacy regulatory and policy setup.

Prior to concluding the workshop, Governor Mr. Jean Ciza of BRB, thanked all participants for their high engagement, and expressed gratitude to AFI and its member institutions for their active collaboration for making the event a success.