2018 Annual General Meeting (AGM) - Opening Remarks from Governor Fazle Kabir, Bangladesh Bank & Chairman of the AFI Board of Directors


Annual General Meeting,
Wednesday, 5 September 2018
Sochi, Russia

Opening Remarks from Governor Fazle Kabir, Bangladesh Bank & Chairman of the AFI Board of Directors

AFI, Executive Director, Dr. Alfred Hannig;

Our host, Ms. Olga Skorobogatova, First Deputy Governor, Central Bank of the Russian Federation;

Fellow Governors and Heads of Institutions;

Distinguished members;

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am honored to deliver the opening remarks for the 2018 Annual General Meeting of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion. This is AFI’s 3rd AGM as an independent organization and also its 10th since inception. We are truly grateful to the Central Bank of Russia for their gracious hospitality to host the 10th AFI Global Policy Forum in the beautiful city of Sochi which also hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics and recently, the FIFA World Cup championship.

As AFI members, we have traversed through a decade’s journey of developing impactful financial inclusion policies. The journey started in 2009 with global unbanked population of 2.5 billion and today, we witness its reduction to 1.7 billion. We can attribute this positive change in part to the efforts of the AFI network. Honorable members, while we acknowledge this achievement, challenges persist. Much work lies ahead of us including the pressing need to address issues such as closing the gender gap, climate change and last mile access and usage of financial services. We need concerted efforts to address demand-side issues of expanding quality and usage of financial services. AFI has been a highly practical platform for members by pooling together the means, experience and resolve to address these challenges. I implore all of us to persist in our commitment to pursue these common goals.

As Phase II of AFI’s strategic path concludes in 2018, AFI can look forward to 2019 and beyond (Phase III) to scale our global position as a global leader in financial inclusion and truly member-driven organization with South-South collaboration. We have demonstrated to the world that such collaboration is an effective force to mobilize nations in the Herculean task of addressing global challenges. With members’ commitment, AFI was able to weather various operating challenges over time while supporting members in advancing in-country policy changes. Members’ appreciation of AFI evident over time in the increase of members paying their dues to support the sustainability of AFI.    

To enhance the governance of the AFI network, we have expanded the Board in 2017 to ensure greater diversity in geographical and gender representation. AFI also reinforced permanent committees to strengthen the technical scope of the Board’s work. A holistic governance structure supports the organizational sustainability needs by providing effective governance across processes and providing systematic programming attuned to member needs, applying flexibility in responding to members’ needs through relevant AFI’s programs.

Bangladesh Bank had the privilege of hosting a JLP on digital financial services (DFS) in December 2017, adding value to the JLPs across various topics hosted in Ghana on data, Mexico on proportionality, Nigeria on national strategy and soon Malaysia on FinTech and Tanzania on in-country implementation and measurement of national frameworks.

This AGM is a milestone celebrating AFI’s 10th anniversary, key impact and successes. As mandated by the Articles, it is also the year to review membership fees with a view to reinforce members’ commitment to AFI. This AGM will discuss key strategic issues relating to the framework for the issuance of guidance or policy models, and consolidating ideas from the membership on how best we can together shape and position our organization as a global policy leadership alliance. I look forward to our deliberations on various issues today, issues which have been reviewed and discussed by the AFI Board leading up to the AGM.

I take this opportunity to thank my colleagues in the AFI Board for their dedication and commitment in various engagements and activities of the Board. The AFI Board values and appreciates the contribution of the AFI committees that have assisted the Board in providing oversight. We acknowledge the outstanding leadership shown by Committee Chairs: Deputy Governor Dr. Tukiya Kankasa-Mabula, Chair of the Gender and Women’s Financial Inclusion Committee; Governor Mrs. Shamsiah Yunus, Chair of the Global Standards and Policy Committee; Ms. Lorraine Seeto, Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee.

On behalf of the Board and the AFI network, I wish to express our gratitude to my predecessor, Governor Ilan Goldfajn of Banco Central do Brasil who took on the role of AFI Board Chairman at the AGM last year. The AFI network has benefitted from for his service and leadership in advancing the governance and technical work streams of the AFI network, including providing oversight for the development of AFI’s Phase III Strategic Plan.

I would like to commend members of the AFI network for your nominations to serve on the AFI Board and Committees. Such service goes beyond your institutional duties. We are grateful for your commitment and willingness to spare time to contribute to the leadership of the AFI network.

I thank the Management and staff of the AFI Management Unit for their tireless work in supporting the mission and goals of the AFI network and for their service to the AFI membership in fulfilling members’ needs and demands.

I wish us a fruitful and productive meeting today and with this, I hereby officially open the 2018 Annual General Meeting of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion. Thank you.

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