16 August 2019
The heads of member institutions Superintendencia General de Entidades Financieras (SUGEF) and Central Bank of Suriname (CBvS) met with AFI’s Executive Director earlier this week to discuss strengthening technical support and regional representation.
SUGEF’s Superintendent Bernardo Alfaro welcomed AFI’s Dr. Alfred Hannig to Costa Rica on August 7, where they discussed ways in which the San José-based institution could enhance its technical capacity, particularly in implementing a national financial inclusion strategy (NFIS).
Costa Rica is in the early stages of developing its first NFIS in collaboration with other national regulatory and supervisory financial institutions. NFIS implementation is among SUGEF’s six Maya Declaration targets, as listed on the AFI Data Portal, along with the review of legal frameworks relating to microcredits, electronic purses and simplified processes for opening bank accounts.
Dr. Hannig also acknowledged SUGEF’s participation and commitments in AFI activities and thanked them for the support provided to its monitoring and evaluation team during a recent mission to evaluate the impact of an AFI policy grant. The grant was completed in late 2018 and helped conduct demand-side surveys to identify gaps in financial inclusion and barriers to financial inclusion in Costa Rica.
During the meeting, SUGEF confirmed its interest in AFI’s Inclusive Green Finance (IGF) workstream and intention to join the soon-to-be-launched IGF Working Group (IGFWG). IGFWG will shortly become AFI’s seventh working group and is due to hold its first meeting at the 2019 AFI Global Policy Forum in Kigali, Rwanda.
Discussions also centered on progress made in establishing AFI’s regional office in Costa Rica. Catering to the needs of member institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), it will be AFI’s second regional presence after the Africa Regional Office opened its doors in Côte d’Ivoire earlier this year.
Dr. Hannig also met with Minister of Economy, Industry and Trade Victoria Hernández, SUGEF President and AFI Board Member Luis Carlos Delgado as well as parliamentarians from Costa Rica’s International Affairs Commission.
The trip followed on the heels of a visit to Suriname, where Dr. Hannig meet CBvS Governor Robert van Trikt as part of efforts to strengthen ties between the two institutions.
Held at the central bank’s office in Paramaribo, talks focused on AFI’s in-country implementation initiatives, enhancing demand-side financial inclusion data frameworks, developing an NFIS and implementing financial education programs.
Governor van Trikt used the discussions to elaborate on Suriname’s efforts to expand its hydro energy programs and protect its rainforests, highlighting potential collaboration on AFI’s IGF workstream.
The meeting also provided an opportunity for the CBvS governor to meet AFI’s Head of LAC Office, Zaira Badillo.
CBvS also expressed interest in hosting AFI events and strengthening its connections with other members in the region. The central bank is an active member of the AFI network, having attended a joint learning program on financial inclusion strategies and member training on anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism in 2018.
Both SUGEF and CBvS are members of AFI’s Financial Inclusion Initiative for Latin America and the Caribbean (FILAC), a regional initiative that aims to be the driving force for advancing financial inclusion in LAC countries. Launched in 2016 with support from Canada’s International Development Research Center (IDRC), FILAC’s 11 members have announced 77 Maya Declaration targets. In 2011, the region hosted the AFI GPF in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, the stretch of coastline that gave its name to the Maya Declaration.