Eliki Boletawa, AFI Policy Programs & Implementation Director providing his opening remarks for the Regional Training and Technical Workshop on Promoting Youth Financial Inclusion

19 July 2022

Regional Training and Technical Workshop on Promoting Youth Financial Inclusion – Opening Remarks by AFI Policy Programs & Implementation Director Eliki Boletawa

Nadia Gamha, Deputy Governor, Banque Centrale de Tunisie and Member of the AFI Board of Directors, speakers and participants from AFI member institutions, colleagues from the Banque Centrale de Tunisie, AFI team.

Dear participants, good day to all of you! Thank you for joining us for the BCT-AFI Regional Training on Promoting Youth Financial Inclusion- Practical Policy Perspectives. This event is special in more than one way.

  • This is the first exclusive training on Youth Financial Inclusion in the AFI network.
  • It is the first regional training dedicated exclusively to the Arab region members.
  • It is the first in-person training to be hosted by Banque Centrale de Tunisie.

I wish I was there in person to be part of this event, but I am happy to be able to connect at least virtually. The world for sure is a changed place after the pandemic and we are sure to see enhanced use of digital platforms in many spheres of life.

AFI sincerely acknowledges Banque Centrale de Tunisie (BCT) for co-hosting this regional training. BCT is an active member of the AFI network. We are honoured to have Nadia Gamha, Deputy Governor, BCT as a Member of the AFI Board of Directors. BCT staff has representatives in all the seven AFI Working Groups. BCT also co-hosted Virtual Member Training on Strengthening Agent Network for Digital Financial Services in June 2021, when we were all stranded due to the pandemic. And in addition, a total of 56 staff of BCT participated in 16 diverse AFI events. These are clear indications of commitment leading to the institutionalization of financial inclusion across all levels and diverse units within BCT and we are indeed thankful to BCT for setting an exemplary example in the network.

It is not only the BCT, who have been active in the AFI network, but we also have the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Tunisia and Microfinance Control Authority of the Republic of Tunisia also as members of the AFI network. A collaborative ecosystem helps the promotion of financial inclusion, and we appreciate the efforts of all the three regulating entities in Tunisia.  

Financial Inclusion of the youth is much needed and yet a challenging task. AFI started working on this policy area a few years back and generally, this theme has been addressed as a cross-cutting topic in various AFI events. AFI’s work in this policy area expanded over the years and more recently, the increased digitization of financial services driven by the pandemic has further enhanced the need to work on this policy area as the youth are among the highest users of Digital Financial Services (DFS). An important commitment endorsed by the network was the Kigali Statement, adopted in 2019, which aims to accelerate the financial inclusion of disadvantaged groups, the youth being one of them. Following this the Financial Inclusion Strategy Working Group formed a subgroup on youth financial inclusion, which developed the Guideline Note Integrating Youth into A National Financial Inclusion Strategy, published in 2020. The Youth Financial Inclusion Policy Framework, was then developed based on examples and insights from the network, and published in 2020. With the efforts to raise awareness on this policy area, different blogs were disseminated, one example of a blog written with Palestine Monetary Authority. AFI has been mainstreaming these and many other knowledge products on Youth Financial Inclusion in different AFI events and external events with the key objectives:

  1. To encourage members to adapt the Youth Financial Inclusion Framework to the country context and then to adopt and draft the implementation plan
  2. To add an exclusive section on Youth Financial Inclusion in the National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS).

The youth are a great asset to the county and this critical population segment makes significant contribution to its development, innovation and stability. Including them financially thus also ensures reaching the social and economic potential of the young people. Financial regulators and policymakers have a role and responsibility to empower youth through the implementation of innovative financial inclusion policies and regulations. Empowering their financial capabilities, ensuring an effective access and usage – which in most cases is their first access to the formal financial system – helps them to contribute to a better present life and a sustainable future.

The Arab region holds an important place in the AFI network, with eleven member institutions from nine  countries, making significant contribution in the network through a range of engagements. We wish to acknowledge and encourage this continued participation. As per the results of the Member Needs Assessment 2021, 68 percent of the AFI members in the Arab region said that NFIS is one of the highest priority policy areas in the next two years and 33% mentioned that they will be working on the youth integration in NFIS for the two next years. 83% mentioned youth financial inclusion is a priority cross cutting topic for their institution for the two years which is a unique trend in the AFI network.

In the Arab region, 60 percent of the population is under the age of 25, making the region one of the most youthful in the world, with a median age of 22 years compared to a global average of 28. This makes financial inclusion of youth in this region crucial in advancing sustainable socio-economic growth and we are delighted to be hosting AFI’s first exclusive training on Youth Financial Inclusion in the region.

However, the youth in the region face a lot of challenges, which have been aggravated by the pandemic. A post-pandemic report by United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) which comprises of 20 Arab member states, reports that Arab youth unemployment is the highest worldwide and the fastest growing, increasing from 19.5 to 23 percent between 2012 and 2020. Unemployment among young Arab women is more than twice that of young men, reaching 42.1 percent. The apparent challenges faced by the youth population in the region require swift policy interventions and the training has been designed to help the participants contribute to such policy development in their country.

I am sure you are excited to be meeting members from other institutions after a couple of years, to be making new connections, and to be enjoying the amazing Tunisian hospitality. I urge you to optimally use the opportunity of an in-person event by sharing, asking, discussing, and networking such that you leave the forum with practical learning that you can implement on return.

I once again thank Banque Centrale de Tunisie for co-hosting this event and wish you a great week of learning! Thank you!

 


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