Lesotho Financial Inclusion Day,
Thursday, 29 November 2018
Opening remarks by Norbert Mumba, Deputy Executive Director, AFI
Honorable Minister of Finance, of Lesotho
Governor, Dr. Matlanyane of Central bank of Lesotho,
Country Manager, World Bank, Lesotho
Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP Lesotho
Ladies and gentlemen,
Your Excellency, on behalf of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion, Board, Management and Members of the network, I would like to extend our warmest congratulations to the Central Bank of Lesotho for holding this forum on the Financial Inclusion day on the theme of “Broadening the Horizons for all”. Such events at national level are important as they build the momentum in enhancing ownership and coordination of national financial inclusion objectives.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Allow me to express my utmost gratitude to Dr Matlanyane, Governor Central Bank of Lesotho and her wonderful team at the Central Bank of Lesotho for being an active member of AFI and for providing leadership to the AFI Network as a member of Board Committee on Gender and Women Financial Inclusion. I also wish to thank the Hon. Minister of Finance for finding time to grace this occasion which is also a sign of the Government of Lesotho’s commitment to financial inclusion.
As you are aware, the Alliance for Financial Inclusion, is the only global international organization owned by financial inclusion policymaking and regulatory institutions from emerging and developing economies with the specific mandate of bringing smart financial inclusion policy to life. The current membership base comprises of about 100-member institutions from 92 countries, representing approximately 85% of the world’s unbanked population. AFI closely with members and multilateral international organizations under a cooperative model to address the common global goals for financial inclusion.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As I was reflecting on the theme of this timely high-level forum “Broadening the Horizons for all”, Hon Minister and Governor I could not help but conclude that this is a very important theme that raises a lot of policy questions. Central to the policy questions is the question ‘are our financial inclusion policies helping our people to lift them out of poverty and what more can we do?
In response let share some of AFI networks’ approaches from a global perspective that aim to broaden financial inclusion for all.
Effective Application of Appropriate Technology
FinTech has the potential to accelerate access and usage of quality financial services for all if appropriately harnessed through enabling policies and regulatory frameworks and approaches. We have observed across different markets the power of digital technology, for instance, to drive access to basic accounts, through mobile telephone services to governments efforts of issuing digital IDs with effective e-KYC process.
From this backdrop, the AFI network, in September 2018, adopted the Sochi Accord on FinTech for Financial Inclusion. The Accord provides a framework for AFI members to leverage innovative new technology-based financial services, or FinTech, to advance financial inclusion globally. It highlights 10 Action Points that the AFI network is committed to undertake, which include, targeted peer learning, collaboration between regulators, standard-setting bodies, technological providers, multilateral organization and academia. It also provides, specific in-country approaches and engagements that will enable the countries to share their practical regulatory approaches for FinTech, RegTech and other technological solutions that foster inclusion and empower regulators to mitigate risks of new players and services.
Effective National Financial Inclusion Coordination Mechanism
Financial inclusion challenges at domestic level cannot be addressed by one institution, it is joint and collaborative effort. National coordination mechanism has proved to be effective in facilitating systematic achievement of national goals. We have thus noted increased establishment of these national coordination mechanisms through development of National Financial Inclusion Strategies. Demand for peer-learning and tailored approaches have like-wised increased due to the impact that countries have had in the coordination process that typically include involvement of key financial inclusion stakeholders from the public and private sector under the leadership or championship of a national steering council.
Deliberate Policy Approaches for Vulnerable Segments in the Society and Cross-cutting Issues
We cannot effectively broaden our financial inclusion horizons if the vulnerable segments of the society are left behind, due to unfriendly policies, regulations, approaches and structural issues. These groups include, women, youth, disabled, migration and to some extent MSMEs. In addition, cross-cutting issues may have a negative impact or may further exacerbate exclusion, these include the impact of climate change and de-risking.
The AFI network recognize the importance of ensuring that such segments and cross-cutting issues are addressed. To cite a few examples, the Central Bank of Lesotho is a committee member of our Gender and Women Financial Inclusion Committee, that guides the network on effective implementation of a programs that will reduce the global gender gap between men and women. Although Lesotho has managed to narrow the gap to ……in Sub-Sahara Africa it has persisted at 9% for the past 10 years. The AFI Denarau Action Plan (2016), another Accord from the network, led by the Gender and Women Financial Committee has been instrumental in driving the network.
On cross-cutting issues, such as climate change, the AFI network adopted the Sharm el Sheikh accord of 2017 on climate change specifically aimed at providing adaptation and mitigation mechanisms for impact of climate change on financial inclusion. Our focus here will be on the 3P’s (Promote Provide and Protect). This calls on the policy makers to be at the forefront of adaptation and mitigation measures so that we enhance risk mitigation beyond the current emphasis. Unless we align our policies to sustainable development, we risk losing the gains that Lesotho has made on financial inclusion.
We also see issues relating to cross-border remittances and interoperability as issues that require further policy refinement in the region. With a significant proportion of the population still outside the country, facilitation of remittance flows particularly can be a key catalyst to economic growth and job creation. The AFI’s African Financial Inclusion Policy Initiative recent framework on cross-border remittances offers promise facilitate cost effective flows.
MSMEs have an important role in the economy especially in generating employment. Despite this role, most MSMEs are excluded from formal financial services this hampers the potential to contribute effectively to the economy. Providing appropriate financial inclusion policies is imperative, in this regard, the network is exploring different innovative approaches using FinTech and regulation to address the key barriers for MSMEs access to finance such as lack of collateral. Development of Secured Transaction Regulatory frameworks, digital footprints. In the sphere of expanding access to finance there is potential of using digital/fintech platforms: a norm in the South East Asia markets, which Lesotho may benefit from through peer-learning from the network.
In conclusion, we see technology through leveraging digital platforms for inclusion, education and literacy, effective National Coordination on financial inclusion objectives, Gender and Women Financial Inclusion, MSME access to financial services and sustainable financial inclusion policies as being key to broadening the horizon for financial inclusion in Lesotho and globally.
Once again thank the CBL for inviting us to this important forum and reiterate the key leadership role that CBL has been playing in the network through sharing peer learning practical experiences financial inclusion policies.