17 October 2020

New risks are emerging, so are opportunities

An interview with Walid Ali, Central Bank of Egypt and Audrey Hove, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe

Since the formation of the Inclusive Green Finance Working Group (IGFWG) at the 2019 Global Policy Forum (GPF) in Kigali, Rwanda, Walid Ali from the Central Bank of Egypt and Audrey Hove from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe formed the dynamic duo steering AFI’s newest working group.

AFI caught up with Walid and Audrey as they reflect on progress made by the working group and give us a glimpse into their hopes for a green future.


What has been the greatest achievement for IGFWG in the past year?

Audrey: Since its formation, the IGFWG has worked very hard, and its greatest achievement has been its ability to develop four knowledge products within one year of being established, of which one is already published and three are being finalized. Further, the working group hosted a number of technical webinars and virtual member trainings on IGF. This is an achievement, as it makes the necessary ‘noise’ to raise awareness and brings the matter of sustainable green financing on the Agenda in the development of economic policies.

Walid: I believe that the greatest achievement in the past year is the recognition by AFI members of the importance of IGF, proven by the increased number of members who joined the working group. One year on, the IGFWG now boasts 44 member institutions, representing 41 countries. It is an achievement because it is not easy to shift a banker’s mind set to new topics like green finance or sustainability issues, from their focus on more traditional policy areas. I think it is very important to the financial inclusion community because their efforts will contribute to our IGF goals.


Why is the work of the IGFWG important, pre-COVID19 and presently?

Walid: Despite all the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it gave us all a chance to do business differently, evaluate and prioritize our strategies in a different and sustainable way in order to reduce the negative impacts of such business shocks.  Currently central banks and regulators are increasing their efforts to promote the transition to a more sustainable and green financial systems. New risks are emerging, so are opportunities. Financial institutions which manage to understand, and act early will be at a competitive advantage. The IGFWG work will continue to support all members’ future plans after the COVID-19 phase.

Audrey: The work of the IGFWG is critical both during the pre-COVID and post-COVID era, as its output provides learning platforms for regulators and policy makers to support vulnerable and under-served communities that are prone to climate change risks, thus creating an inclusive financial system that promotes economic development. Vulnerable groups that are susceptible to climate risk are impacted more by COVID-19 shocks. The working group intends to create knowledge and raise awareness on how policy makers can create an enabling environment where vulnerable groups can build the necessary resilience to manage such shocks. Policy makers need to address how to create an enabling environment for sustainable financing and attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.


Please share a memorable experience you had as chair and co-chair of IGFWG?

Walid: I remember the first IGFWG meeting in Kigali 2019 when most of the participants had minimum knowledge about the IGF. Comparing that with today, the efforts spent in formulating sub-working groups, and their useful and important outcome and products, makes me feel quite proud and excited. In such short time and despite the lockdown all over the globe, we have managed to build solid knowledge that will enhance our future plans.

Audrey: When the draft knowledge products were issued and discussed by the IGFWG members, I really felt proud that we were on course to achieving our mandate. The enthusiasm exhibited by the members in contributing to the draft policy documents was very encouraging and I look forward to the publication of the final documents. I would like to see how the knowledge products will influence policy development in countries represented by AFI member institutions.


What is your vision/ hope for the IGFWG to become, five years from now?

Audrey: I would like to see more AFI member institutions developing and implementing sound policies that promote management of climate risk, with more financial service providers creating appropriate and sustainable green finance products. The majority of countries are being impacted by climate change and I would want to see the matter being considered as a development priority and mainstreamed in all economic development considerations.

Walid: I hope to see the IGFWG outcome and guidelines become highly considered, and any financial inclusion efforts harmonious with green considerations.


What is your message to the rest of the AFI network?

Walid: I encourage the network to go through the work of IGFWG to know more about the efforts spent by members and the valuable knowledge products the WG members came up with, and to consider joining the IGFWG. To achieve our common goals, our efforts needs to be unified.

Audrey: Let us keep up the good work. Let us continue to share knowledge and pursue policies for the betterment of our nations. Climate change is with us and it is our responsibility to develop policies and regulations that aim at enabling mitigation and building resilience to the negative impacts of climate change through inclusive and sustainable green financial inclusion.


At the IGFWG management meeting on 15 October 2020, Walid officially stepped down from his role as the working group chair, promoting Audrey to take position. The working group also welcomed Veronica Bayangos from Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas as its new co-chair and Najwa Mouhaouri from Bank Al-Maghrib as its new vice co-chair.

AFI is thankful to Walid for his valuable contributions to the working group. We also congratulate Audrey, Veronica and Najwa, and wish them all the best in their new appointments.


AFI’s Inclusive Green Finance (IGF) workstream is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI)  supported by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), based on a decision of the German Bundestag.

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