Central Bank of Seychelles took over as the Chair of AFI’s African Financial Inclusion Policy Initiative (AfPI) from the Bank of Tanzania during AfPI Leaders’ Roundtable in Arusha, Tanzania, on 23 June 2022. Seychelles Governor Caroline Abel is the first woman to Chair an AFI regional initiative. We spoke to Governor Abel in Arusha, as she assumed her new post of AfPI Chair.
Governor Caroline Abel, AfPI Chair
AFI: Congratulations on taking over as Chair of AfPI. You are the first woman to hold this post. What does the post of the AfPI Chair mean to you as a regulator, but also to you personally?
Governor Caroline Abel: First and foremost, it highlights the confidence the AfPI leaders have entrusted in the Central Bank of Seychelles (CBS) despite being a small institution hailing from a small island state. CBS is committed to advancing financial inclusion; hence the institution is deeply humbled by this recognition and will strive to help bring the platform to greater heights.
While I am the first woman to hold this position, there are many women across the member countries playing leadership roles in the various work being done by the network. I say leadership roles because I firmly believe that being a leader is not only about having a title; a person can be a leader by displaying certain qualities such as being innovative, independent, resilient and able to make decisions. And this is visible within AfPI. To me, having a woman at the helm of the regional platform, therefore, symbolizes an acknowledgement of the efforts and contribution of all the women and affirms AFI’s commitment to gender diversity, women empowerment and inclusion. I firmly believe that being a man or woman is not important in the discharge of any role, including leadership positions; what is most important is the willingness to work hard and discharge your responsibilities with zeal and confidence. I would like to use this opportunity to encourage all women within the AfPI community to believe in their abilities, continue working hard and be ready to bring forth their contributions.
On a personal note, I am deeply honoured and humbled to have been entrusted with the noble task of chairing AfPI for the next two years. I am counting on the support of the entire AfPI platform, as an effective leader fosters inclusivity and collaboration.
AFI: What do you foresee as the biggest challenge you could have as the regional Chair?
Governor Caroline Abel: The AfPI leadership is tasked with spearheading the implementation of innovative and effective policies and nurturing collaboration to break down barriers, address identified gaps and continue making progress to ensure that no one is left behind amidst an ever-evolving financial and economic landscape.
While member countries have their specificities, we can all learn from one another as we work towards achieving our common goal. Challenges are inevitable, but they can also be turned into opportunities. I always adopt this mindset in everything I do, at a personal and professional level, and this is a mindset I would be adopting during my tenure.
Recent events have shown that we must be ready to adjust our thinking and take bold decisions to tackle unprecedented situations. Irrespective of the challenges that may arise and threaten to hinder our efforts, I am counting on the tenacity and determination of the entire team to use them as building blocks to further advance the financial inclusion agenda.
AFI: Prior to becoming AfPI Chair, you were the regional initiative’s Deputy Chair. This, combined with your experience of a leading financial regulator in the Seychelles, in the Africa region and in AFI’s global network, could you tell us about your priorities over the next two years when you will be heading AfPI?
Governor Caroline Abel: As agreed at the AfPI meetings, over the next year, the focus will be on consumer protection for digital financial services, digital financial literacy, leveraging digital financial services for inclusive green finance and the collection of disaggregated data.
As the AfPI chair, I am committed to ensuring that these deliverables are effectively addressed over the next year. In 2023, we will be able to take stock of what has been achieved and determine other priorities to be tackled going forward based on global, regional and country-specific developments.
As AfPI brings together leaders of financial sector regulatory and policymaking institutions, we speak the same language and have similar visions and objectives. In that regard, we need to have a forward-looking approach, remain vigilant, maintain dialogue and stand ready to adjust our plans according to what is happening in the global economic environment.
Peer learning and capacity building are key areas I would also like to focus on during my tenure. This is critical if we are to keep pace with the developments and emerging issues that can impact financial inclusion and economic development.
For more on AFI’s African Financial Inclusion Regional Policy Initiative, please visit AfPI page.