BCEAO “Central Banks in a Changing World” symposium, Dakar, Senegal

2 December 2022

BCEAO celebrates 60th anniversary

Congratulations to Banque Centrale des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (BCEAO) on celebrating its 60th anniversary. To further advance its forward-looking approach, the BCEAO organized an international symposium on the role of central banks in the changing world as part of the anniversary festivities.

On 24 November 2022 in Dakar, Senegal, leaders from central banks – most part of the AFI network – as well as high-level representatives from International Monetary Fund, Bank for International Settlements, other international institutions, and academia, participated in the event to address challenges and opportunities related to monetary stability, financial stability and financial inclusion in the current “polycrisis” environment.

While there was focus on the core mandate of the central banks to ensure price stability, participants also agreed on the importance of financial inclusion in times of crisis and its role of a major lever that ensures inclusivity in countries that are most affected by the impact of armed conflicts, geopolitical tensions and food security issues.

An AFI member institution since 2011, BCEAO is a central bank that serves eight West African countries, members of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), namely Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. Together with the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Côte d’Ivoire, BCEAO has hosted AFI’s Africa Regional Office in Abidjan since 2018.

“BCEAO has always strived to meet all challenges to continue its progress in serving WAEMU Member States and populations”, said Dr. Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, Governor of BCEAO at the opening of the symposium.

BCEAO has been making efforts to modernize monetary policy instruments, improving the supervision of financial sector, developing and strengthening financial infrastructures, promoting digital financial services and responding to the financing needs of WAEMU countries.

 

Digitization and financial inclusion

Improving the use of financial services by creating an enabling environment, while promoting the digitalization of payments and reducing gender gaps, remains at the top of the agenda for central banks in Africa.

With the financial inclusion rate increasing by 31 percent in WAEMU member countries, about 71 percent of adults had access to finance in 2021, compared to 42 percent a decade earlier. This follows a global trend with increase in global access to financial services to 76 percent, while in developing economies it now sits at 71 percent, according to 2021 Global Findex.

In a session introduced by AFI’s Executive Director, Dr. Alfred Hannig, central bank governors and deputy governors of Mozambique, Haiti, Mauritius, Guinea, and Comoros, as well as the President of the West African Development Bank (BOAD), explored the question of which policies should be implemented to build robust digital infrastructure and platforms for comprehensive inclusion of citizens. Along with best practices for strengthening consumer protection, the leaders also deliberated on the contribution of fintech in accelerating financial services and initiatives that strengthen financial inclusion of women and youth.

During the session moderated by Governor Rogério Lucas Zandamela of Banco de Mozambique, Governor Jean Baden Dubois of the Central Bank of Haiti shared their experiences of creating an enabling environment to take advantage of digitalization to advance financial inclusion. Panellists highlighted the importance of collaboration, peer learning, and capacity building for financial regulators and acknowledged AFI’s crucial role in facilitating knowledge sharing between financial regulators. The Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Comoros, Faouzia Radjabou, expressed an interest to join AFI and learn from peers.

Dr. Hannig emphasized responsibly, inclusivity, and flexibility as key principles of regulatory approaches in digitization. For increased use of digital financial services, financial regulators require clear vision and must coordinate the implementation of appropriate policies to create space for all market players. While being agile in policy formulation, along with developing and implementing policies that protect consumers, regulators should also act to create a resilient and inclusive financial sector. To achieve this, policy makers should collaborate on all levels.

“Financial regulators cannot afford to be isolated. More than ever, central banks depend on knowledge sharing”, Dr. Hannig concluded.

Strengthening collaboration with BCEAO

Ahead of the symposium, Dr. Hannig met BCEAO Governor Dr. Jean-Claude Kassi Brou to congratulate BCEAO on a significant milestone and to thank Governor Brou for inviting AFI to share insights at the symposium. Choosing to discuss financial inclusion, among other important topics, in such a high-level meeting of central bankers, international institutions, academics, and private sector players, shows the growing recognition of the importance financial inclusion has in the changing world.

Governor Brou and AFI’s Executive Director exchanged views on the project of AFI’s transformation into an Intergovernmental Organization (IGO) and on ways to strengthen the collaboration between the two institutions. They also discussed the possibility for BCEAO to make additional Maya Declaration commitments based on BCEAO’s new financial inclusion policy priorities.

BCEAO’s primary Maya commitments in financial inclusion include policy areas in digital financial services, financial inclusion data, financial inclusion of youth, and national financial inclusion strategy. So far, BCEAO has achieved 11 Maya Declaration targets on financial inclusion, while another 17 are currently in progress.

 

Financial inclusion and entrepreneurship of youth and women in Senegal

AFI’s Executive Director also met with the Head of the General Delegation for Rapid Entrepreneurship for Women and Youth (DER/FJ) in Senegal, Dr. Mame Aby Seye. The two leaders discussed financial inclusion and entrepreneurship of youth and women in Senegal.

DER targets youth up to 40 years old, as well as women over 18 years old. It is designed to catalyze entrepreneurship across Senegal with a fund of USD 50 million. Launched by the President of Senegal in 2018, DER offers four main types of funding to address the needs of the population: Nano credit, micro-credit, support for MSMEs, and value chain structuring support.

“We are dealing with people categorized as ‘risky’ by the traditional financial system. However, they have the highest rate of reimbursement of their loans”, DER Head Mame Aby Seye explained.


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