Executive Director, Alliance for Financial Inclusion, represented by Mr. Ivan James Ssettimba
Distinguished participants and panellists
Ladies and gentlemen.
Good morning, everyone.
A warm welcome to Uganda, the Pearl of Africa!
The Bank of Uganda (BoU) is honoured to join the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) in hosting this regional training on the Financial Inclusion of Forcibly Displaced Persons (FDPs) in Kampala.
We are confident that this training event will empower participants with the knowledge and skills to develop practical financial inclusion policies that meet the needs of FDPs. We invite all participants to engage actively in this training, collaborate with peers, and take back the knowledge and insights gained to the respective organizations and countries.
From the outset, let me assert that financial inclusion reflects our commitment to treating all individuals, regardless of their status, with dignity and respect. Pursuing financial inclusion for FDPs is a natural part of Ugandan culture, reflecting our shared humanity. The sense of Ubuntu that abounds in Uganda has been hailed by many – let me quote three.
António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General: “Uganda has shown great generosity and compassion in hosting refugees, and it sets an inspiring example for the world.”
Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees: “Uganda’s refugee policy is a shining example of how a country can provide hope and opportunity to those fleeing conflict and persecution.”
Angelina Jolie, Actress and UNHCR Special Envoy: “Uganda’s approach to hosting refugees is exemplary. They have integrated them into their society, providing land, education, and healthcare. It’s a model for the world.”
We are proud to be the leading refugee host in sub-Saharan Africa, with over 1.5 million refugees and asylum-seekers, primarily from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Burundi. This makes the selection of FDPs as the focus group for financial inclusion particularly significant for Uganda. We see this training event as an essential step in improving their financial inclusion.
Most FDPs in Uganda reside in 13 districts in the north and southwest, as well as in Kampala. They live alongside local communities in settlements where they enjoy the right to work and significant freedom of movement. I am pleased that the training program this week includes a field trip to one of the refugee camps in the suburbs of Kampala.
Distinguished participants, I would like to highlight the objectives of this training:
▪Assess the challenges faced by FDPs, especially women, and how financial inclusion can mitigate these challenges.
▪Identify the barriers to financial inclusion for FDPs and how policies can responsibly leverage innovative digital financial services (DFS) to address them.
▪Examine the various approaches the BoU and other AFI member institutions take in implementing national financial inclusion policies and initiatives to promote the financial inclusion of FDPs.
▪Recognize the roles played by key stakeholders in policy implementation to enhance national coordination for the financial inclusion of FDPs.
In collaboration with development partners, the Ugandan government is committed to improving access to and usage of financial services for FDPs through various interventions, including:
▪Allowing FDPs to open mobile money or bank accounts using refugee IDs or attestation letters issued by the Directorate of Refugees in the Office of the Prime Minister as Know Your Customer (KYC) documents.
▪Expanding internet coverage to rural areas in Uganda, where most settlements are located, to enhance connectivity and access to digital financial services.
▪Providing targeted financial literacy training in rural communities and refugee settlement areas through mass media, especially radio talk shows and in-person training.
To enhance these efforts, the BoU and stakeholders have developed the second National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) for 2023 – 2028, which focuses on reducing financial exclusion, deepening and broadening the use of high-quality and affordable formal financial products, strengthening financial consumer protection and empowerment, developing an inclusive green finance market, and promoting gender-inclusive finance
The strategy is built on three enabling pillars:
▪Public and private sector commitment and coordination
▪Policy, legal, regulatory, and supervisory capacity
▪Enabling infrastructure capacity and security
The NFIS aims to expand the use of a variety of financial products and services, with a focus on underserved segments such as women, FDPs, youth, micro-, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), rural dwellers, and people with disabilities.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is crucial that we work together to develop and implement policies and strategies that enhance the financial inclusion of FDPs and other underserved communities. Together, we can bridge the financial inclusion gap for FDPs in Uganda and worldwide.
We acknowledge the valuable support provided by development partners to vulnerable communities, including FDPs. Special thanks to all the panelists for dedicating your talents and time to support this training event, which we expect to help bridge the financial inclusion gap for FDPs. Our sincerest gratitude to the AFI for their invaluable strategic, logistical, and technical support. We are truly grateful.
Let me close by urging all our visitors to emulate the Ugandan – the fourth highest refugee host in the world – when you travel back home by heeding the words of Leviticus 19.33 – 34, which calls for compassion and hospitality towards foreigners and reminds us that everyone is equal in the eyes of God and that we should treat others with the same kindness and respect that we would want to be treated with.
“Don’t mistreat any foreigners who live in your land. Instead, treat them the same way you would treat citizens and love them as much as you love yourself”, Leviticus 19.33-34.
I hope you have productive training sessions and invite you to enjoy Uganda’s rich sights and sounds.
I thank you for listening to me.