8 September 2020
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear colleagues, good day to everyone and it is with great pleasure that I welcome you to this virtual Working Group Leadership Meeting.
Allow me to express my gratitude by thanking everyone for taking time to attend the AFI Working Group Convergence meetings. It is exciting and pleasing to see so many of you attending this virtual meeting. Like many other organisations, our move to resort to virtual engagement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has allowed us to continue supporting members across the world.
As we all know, COVID-19 is still impacting all of us and over the last few months, all members had to be nimble and promulgate appropriate COVID-19 policy responses followed by swift implementation. In this light the AFI COVID-19 Policy Responses Dashboard has been very instrumental in providing time-sensitive policy and regulatory guidance to AFI members across the network and outside the network. This is from an audience that was keen to learn from central bank policy responses of emerging and developing countries. In fact, the AFI COVID-19 Policy Responses Dashboard was mentioned as one of the top 5 COVID-19 dashboards globally and I would like to thank all members for their support and quick turn-around in developing the COVID-19 Policy Response dashboard. The Dashboard, at the same time, also highlights the important role of the working group members when it comes to building knowledge based on member experiences and furthering the development of AFI as a policy leadership alliance. Thank you all for your leadership, commitment, and passion in sharing your COVID-19 Policy Responses to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on financial inclusion progress made in the last decade.
This year, in line with AFI’s Phase III (2019-2023 Strategic Theme: Policy Leadership Alliance), two Policy Models have been developed with tremendous support from the Working Groups. The Policy Models to be put forward tomorrow at the Annual General Meeting are:
Every year we conduct the AFI Member Needs Assessment to not only gauge your current financial inclusion support needs but also to receive feedback on satisfaction levels regarding the services we provided to you.
I am happy to report that for 2020 the overall satisfaction of AFI as an organisation has remained consistently high at 86%. Member’s attribution to AFI on their development and implementation of financial inclusion policies and regulations has increased from 57% in 2019 to 64% in 2020. The “Unique platform to meet and exchange with peers on FI” remains the highest ranked AFI attribute as rated by AFI members, reaffirming AFI’s DNA as a peer-learning platform.
Members’ level of satisfaction regarding AFI’s guidance to members regarding standards set by SSBs has seen a steady year-on-year increase. We also see emerging consensus from members recognising AFI as a center of technical excellence on FI policy and regulations.
Members’ satisfaction level of AFI policy areas have been on an increasing trend year on year; with Inclusive Green Finance and FinTech/RegTech recording significant increase over the past three years.
Members’ satisfaction on Working Groups remains consistently high at 78% in 2020 and when asked whether AFI Working are an effective mechanism for knowledge generation on Financial Inclusion policy, 88% are in agreement in 2020 which is an increase of 4% from 2019 MNA. In addition, 83% of the members agree that the thematic priorities of Working Groups reflect the collective interest of members.
Members gave an 87% level of usefulness rating for AFI Financial Inclusion Policy Grants and 89% level of usefulness rating for Technical Support for In-Country Implementation (ICI) support.
These high ICI-ratings are very encouraging since ICI is key in the focus on interventions that aid implementation. Technical working group members as well as members from the regional initiatives platform have an increased demand for practical implementation support and we are looking forward, with a heightened emphasis in the development of practical toolkits, to support members’ implementation needs.
In general the 2020 MNA feedback was overwhelmingly positive and AFI will strive to keep satisfaction levels high with regard to its members’ services and implementation support.
Even though there is a lot of positive MNA news, we nevertheless are careful to put everything in perspective and are keeping our eye on increasing financial inclusion steadily.
The reality is that 1.7 billion people are still financially excluded and the gender gap has been stuck at 9% since 2011 and with the Members having committed under Denarau Action Plan to halve their respective gender access to finance gaps by the end of 2021, this deadline is fast approaching. Though we note that members have made substantial progress, there is still a long way to go and we need to redouble our efforts to ensure financial inclusion is available for all and no one is left behind. This is particularly more important as we place more emphasis during the COVID-19 induced recovery period.
Gender sensitive NFIS, the collection and use of sex disaggregated data and gender inclusive financial education and digital literacy programs are all key drivers for greater inclusion and members have the opportunity to enhance women’s leadership and management diversity through programs like the Leadership and Diversity for Regulators program which will open for new participants in January. In addition, IGF policy leadership and regulatory guidance is to be shared on how financial regulation can aim to include disadvantaged individuals and MSMEs in climate mitigation and resilience efforts.
In developing last-mile solutions digital financial services present an important opportunity for significant and rapid expansion of access to formal financial services. Especially within the current context of COVID-19 where speed and scale of delivering response solutions to all, is going to mitigating the impact of economic shocks.
I am confident that when we all work together financial inclusion will be accelerated and AFI will be supporting you along this journey. I would like to thank you in advance for all your efforts going forward. “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”. Thank you!