Over 700 participants attended the 9th AFI Global Policy Forum (GPF) held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt from 13 – 15 September 2017. Co-hosted by the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) and AFI, this was the first time that the AFI’s flagship event has been hosted in the Arab Region. The Forum highlighted innovative financial inclusions policies and activities from around the world.
Events commenced on 13 September with the AFI Annual General Meeting (AGM), a full day program exclusively for AFI members led by the Heads of AFI member institutions.
During the AGM, 96 percent of AFI members endorsed the Sharm El Sheikh Climate Change Accord, which commits AFI members to work together and with partners to identify, understand and implement financial inclusion policy solutions that also have positive outcomes for the environment, focusing on communities that are most vulnerable to climate change.
Through the Sharm El Sheikh Accord, the pledge by AFI members will not only contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation in their own jurisdictions and regions, but also to the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal 13 (take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts) at the global level.
Reflecting on the growth of the network, and in line with the implementation of the Denarau Action Plan, AFI members made significant step in bridging the gender gap within the network.
First, out of the total of the 66 AFI member countries that have made commitments under the Maya Declaration, 27 have made at least one target focused on gender and women’s financial inclusion. Second, the AGM formally approved the Gender and Women’s Financial Inclusion Committee as a permanent committee of the Board of Directors. Third, within the AFI Management Unit and AFI governance, gender balance has been included in the Articles of Association, adding it as criteria for selecting AFI board members. The number of board members has expanded from seven to nine and now the AFI Board of Directors includes three females: Ms. Elvira Nabiullina, Governor of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, Ms. Davaansuren Sodnomdarjaa, Chief of the Financial Regulatory Commission of Mongolia and Ms. Maiava Atalina Ainu’U-Enari, Governor of the Central Bank of Samoa.
During the first day of the GPF, together with the Arab Monetary Fund (AFM) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, AFI agreed to establish the Financial Inclusion for the Arab Region Initiative (FIARI) on 14 September 2017. FIARI aims to help accelerate conducive policies and actions for enhancing Arab societies’ access to financial services through an effective coordination mechanism and by supporting the implementation of national financial inclusion polices. The regional initiative is using financial inclusion as a driving force for sustainable economic and social developments, aligned with the range of the United National Sustainable Development Goals.
AFI also introduced its new Regional Office in Africa during the Forum. Hosted by the Ministry of the Economy and Finance of Cote d’Ivoire and the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, the regional office will be established to ensure greater proximity to its members in Sub Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa. The AFI Africa Office aims to enhance the ability of the network to support its members in working on specific regional priorities, sharing regional knowledge, and translating global financial inclusion issues into practical implementation on regional and national levels.
All six AFI working groups (WG) and three fully fledged regional initiatives (RI) met ahead of the GPF to discuss and deliberate on new and emerging policy issues and progress in deliverables for each WG. The three RI (African Initiative on Financial Inclusion (AfPI), Financial Inclusion in Latin America and the Caribbean Initiative (FILAC) and Pacific Islands Regional Initiative (PIRI) met both at the Experts Group level and at the Leaders Roundtable. AfPI Leaders endorsed the charter and nominations for the Expert Group on Financial Inclusion Policy (EGFIP) that will work on policy and regulatory approaches, effective policy interventions for interoperability schemes and ways to strengthen collaboration between financial and telecom regulators in Africa on digital financial services (DFS) issues. FILAC members were provided an update on FILAC’s work plan and the Study of the Digital Financial Services Ecosystem. PIRI Leaders endorsed members to take forward the implementation of the Denarau Action Plan specifically on the Sex Disaggregated Data Indicators and review of the Dili Consensus to include Climate Change, Green Finance and Gender as additional topics.
The AFI Award Night saw the recognition of 14 recipients of their outstanding work in promotion of financial inclusion across the AFI network and beyond.
The next AFI Global Policy Forum will be held in Sochi, Russia and co-hosted by the Central Bank of Russia. This will be the tenth and jubilee AFI GPF.
Finally, we are pleased to be able to share the work and memories of the 9th GPF. For videos, please visit AFI YouTube, photos are available for download on AFI Flickr, while publications can be obtained from our website. Continue to follow our work on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.