Lesotho Financial Inclusion Day,
Thursday, 29 November 2018
Opening remarks by Dr. Adelaide Matlanyane, Governor of Central Bank of Lesotho
It is my pleasure and privilege to host and welcome you to the inaugural Lesotho Financial Inclusion Day under the theme ‘broadening the horizons’. I wish to extend my gratitude to all of you for accepting our invitation and set aside your busy schedule to come and celebrate with us.
In particular, I wish to welcome the Honourable Minister of Finance, Dr. Moeketsi Majoro and Honourable Minister of Planning Mr. Tlohelang Aumane for agreeing to grace this event with their presence. In no doubt their presence signifies the importance that the Government of Lesotho places on promoting financial inclusion in the country.
I will also like to thank the following for accepting our invitation: the Resident Representative of the UNDP Lesotho, His excellency Mr Salvatore Niyonzima; the World Bank Country Manager, Ms Janet Entwistle; Alliance for Financial Inclusion Deputy Director, Mr Norbert Mumba and Finmark tTust Representative, Mr. Damola Owolade.Your organisations have all been important partners in Lesotho’s our efforts towards promoting financial inclusion.
I also will like to express my gratitude to Professor Luoga, the Governor of the Bank of Tanzania who is with us today to share his experience with us. We know that the Bank of Tanzania is one of the leading pioneers in this area and his presence will help us learn from the leaders in the area.
PROMOTING FINANCIAL INCLUSION HAS BEEN A CLOSER COLLABORATION
Today’s event is an addition to the Central Bank of Lesotho annual calendar. The story of financial inclusion in Lesotho is a result of closer cooperation between different stakeholders and partners. And today’s attendance bears that testimony.
Since 2013, the financial sector in Lesotho agreed to dedicate sometime to teach different sections of the society about financial issues. Initially a week but later increased to a month. Without doubt the Money Month has been a success in Lesotho. Those who were able to join us at the money month roundtable last week may attest to this.
Building on that success, the financial inclusion day intends to bring together the financial sector, government, non-governmental organisations, business and development agencies and Government officials. The initiative is intended to serve as a platform to share news on economic advances in the region, to create awareness on the importance of financial inclusion, and to discuss regulatory and policy advances and assess the challenges and success factors as we pursue the financial inclusion.
Most importantly, the initiative will provide an opportunity to draw lessons from pioneers in the area of financial inclusion. That is why we have invited pioneers and experts from outside our country.
THE THEME ‘BROADENING THE HORIZONS FOR ALL’ IS TIMELY FOR LESOTHO
This year’s theme is ‘broadening the horizons for all’. If one thinks carefully about financial inclusion, one can appreciate that it has created opportunities and brought hope for many of our people.
To our invited guests, Lesotho is a mountainous country and that difficult geography makes it very expensive to expand services to reach all our people. This includes road networks and electricity which were all important for expansion of the bank networks.
SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS IN PROMOTING FINANCIAL INCLUSION IN LESOTHO
Lesotho initiatives to promote financial inclusion are contained in the Financial Sector Development Strategy which was one of the implementing strategies of the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP).
The plan is to review the Strategy in 2019 but indications are that significant milestones have been achieved. To date about 69 per cent of the Strategy has been completed resulting in a series of legislative and regulatory reforms. To name a few, Financial Institutions Act 2012 and its regulations, Insurance Act 2014 and its regulations, and the National Payment Systems Act 2014 and its regulations
The impact has been phenomenal on the economy of Lesotho. The structure of Lesotho financial sector has evolved now having credit bureau, stock market and diversified number of financial services providers. Access to financial services has also improved. This is shown by the increase in the bank accounts opened. The number of mobile money accounts has also been increasing.
MORE STILL NEEDS TO BE DONE
One of the panel discussion today focuses of the financial consumer protection framework. We are in the process of developing the financial consumer protection law which will serve as a legal framework to protects Basotho from unscrupulous behavior by some of the market operators.
It is my strongest believe that the financial consumer protection bill will complement our current efforts to empower our people with financial education. Financial issues by nature are technical and require some level of literacy. And our operators need to be responsible and not take advantage of the lack of financial education by the people.
I am looking forward to hear your views on that session.
THERE IS A NEED TO BE DYNAMICALLY INCOPORATING EMERGING ISSUES
One lesson that we have drawn from our experience of a few years that we have been advancing financial inclusion in Lesotho is that all stakeholders need to be dynamic particularly in addressing emerging issues and managing risks.
The current digital revolution provides enormous opportunities for promoting financial inclusion. It is my belief that small markets like ours can really make fintech work for financial inclusion.
The day has been structured in a way that would allow for sharing of views. The views will all be consolidated into a report to inform the way forward.
With this few words, I wish to welcome all of you to Lehakoe Recreation and Cultural Centre and hope that we will have very fruitful discussions.
I thank you.