Left to right: Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL) Deputy Governor Dr. Ibrahim L. Stevens, AFI Deputy Executive Director Norbert Mumba and BSL Governor Professor Kelfala Morana Kallon

Technology can help financial access grow to 75 percent, BSL governor

Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL) Governor Professor Kelfala Morana Kallon said on 2 December that leveraging technology can help accelerate financial inclusion and aims to leave office with 75 percent of adults having access to financial services.

During bilateral meetings with AFI Deputy Executive Director Norbert Mumba in Freetown, Governor Kallon explained that new innovations were helping reach previously excluded populations. He added that government was working with telecommunication companies to improve connectivity across the country, thereby providing greater access to financial products through mobile phones.

“I wish to leave a legacy in achieving 75 percent of the population with access to financial services,” he said. “AFI has my support as their work focuses on financial inclusion.”

While Findex figures put Sierra Leone’s financial inclusion rate at just 20 percent in 2017, there is significant potential to leverage technology in order to scale up financial services with nearly 90 percent of the population having access to mobile phones.

During the meeting, Governor Kallon also outlined the current situation in Sierra Leone on access to finance and his goal of providing widespread credit access through development projects and community banks. These, he added, could bring economic benefits as well as positive impacts to education and healthcare.

Furthermore, he expressed interest in organizing a symposium on credit that will address the challenges and risks, as well as provide a platform for stakeholder input and feedback. He added that BSL was open to co-hosting AFI events that would provide a platform for knowledge exchange and expose Sierra Leone to other AFI member countries.

Other BSL representatives attending the meeting were Deputy Governor Dr. Ibrahim L. Stevens and Senior Manager Momoh Sesay. It was AFI’s first engagement with Governor Kallon since he assumed the top position in 2018. Deputy Governor Stevens actively participates in AFI high-level activities.

BSL, a principal member of AFI since 2009, has made eight Maya Declaration commitments, including to develop a national financial literacy strategy.