Africa & MENA office supports AFI’s push for regional proximity, in-country implementation and decentralization
Amid the drum of construction, the booming metropolis of Abidjan recently became home to the Alliance for Financial Inclusion’s (AFI) first regional office, set up to provide tailored, immediate responses to AFI members as their demand for in-country implementation support increases.
Hosted by the Ministry of the Economy and Finance of Côte D'Ivoire and the Central Bank of West African State (BCEAO), AFI’s regional office in Abidjan is the institution’s first, with three full-time members of staff – the head, deputy head and bilingual administrative assistant. More are expected to join the AFI’s Africa team as operations further intensify.
“The Abidjan-based office will help support our country as part of our financial inclusion policy,” Côte d'Ivoire Minister of the Economy and Finance Adama Kone said. “It will have the advantage of helping in the identification of priorities and in the implementation of regional financial inclusion policies.”
In recent years, AFI’s operations have been expanding in response to demand, but with over 50 member institutions in Africa and in the Arab Region – often evolving at different speeds, times and directions – the need became paramount for a local staff presence and in-country implementation. From Côte d'Ivoire, AFI staff will focus their efforts on engaging with members from its African Financial Inclusion Policy Initiative (AfPI) and Financial Inclusion Initiative for the Arab Region (FIARI)
Combined with an estimated 7 percent jump in real GDP for 2019, Côte d'Ivoire is a prime location in terms of development, but also an ideal hub for regional activity. Among the issues most relevant to the region is digital financial services, particularly in gender and women’s financial inclusion, financial technology (FinTech) and regulatory technology (RegTech).
Key financial inclusion policy changes that the region has developed and is currently working on include supporting implementation of the two regional policy frameworks, for Digital Financial Services Interoperability and for Innovative Cross-Border Remittances, which were approved by AfPI leaders in September 2018.
“AFI Africa’s regional office will help the Alliance be closer to its members and further strengthen regional cooperation in financial inclusion. This region is economically dynamic and committed in financial inclusion,” BCEAO Governor Tiemoko Meyliet Kone said.
Consistent and local outreach and relationship management will allow AFI to expand ecosystem of relationships, identify and validate new sources of funding, build favourable peer support, co-create new programs with African partners, and negotiate new contracts and agreements. In addition, the Africa office elevates AFI’s status as an equal partner not only in the region’s financial architecture, but also globally.
“Our new regional office provides the proximity to swiftly work with members in responding to the in-county implementation needs,” said AFI Executive Director Alfred Hannig. He added that among the policy priorities will be gender and women’s financial inclusion, a central theme at AFI’s upcoming Global Policy Forum (GPF).
With better knowledge of ground realities and more efficient responsiveness to requests and opportunities, the regional office is significantly lowering operations costs for AFI, including the cost of travel, along with ease of scheduling. At the same time durable relationships with key regional funders and their influencers are being nurtured, building peer support favorable to AFI, co-creating new programs with African partners, and negotiating new contracts and agreements.
Helping support the efforts of AFI members to promote agendas such as gender, digital financial services, financial technology, regulatory technology and climate change are international donors. They include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, German Federal Ministries for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida), the Ministry of Finance of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the French Development Agency (AFD) and Flourish (formerly Omidyar).
AFI’s second regional office is expected in Latin America and the Caribbean by early 2020 that will cater to Financial Inclusion Initiative for Latin American & the Caribbean (FILAC) members. AFI’s headquarters is located in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.
AFI OFFICE IN ABIDJAN / ALLIANCE POUR L’INCLUSION FINANCIERE (AFI)
Plateau, Avenue Marchand Rue Lecoeur
Immeuble SCIAM, 12ème étage
17 BP 412 Abidjan 17
Telephone: +225 20 22 16 10
3. About AfPI
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