2019 AFI Global Policy Forum
12 September, 2019.
Welcome remarks by John Rwangombwa, Governor of National Bank of Rwanda
Right Honorable, Prime Minister of the Republic of Rwanda,
Hon, Ministers present,
Hon. Members of Parliament (both chambers)
AFI Board Chair and AFI Executive Director,
Fellow Governors, and Deputy Governors,
Heads and Representatives of different institutions,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure and honor to welcome you all to Rwanda, for the 11th AFI Global Policy Forum. I hope you have enjoyed and continue enjoying your stay in this beautiful land of a thousand smiles.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you Right Honorable Prime Minister, for honoring our invitation, despite your busy schedule. Your presence here today demonstrates the importance the Government of Rwanda attaches to Financial inclusion and inclusive economic growth in general.
Allow me to extend my appreciation to the Board and Management of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) for choosing Rwanda as your host for the 2019 Global Policy Forum. We are indeed honored to host this very important Forum.
I would also like to thank everyone for their presence today, and more especially to those who travelled from all over the world. I invite you all to feel at home and together as a family let’s take this opportunity to discuss how we can leverage technology to close the financial inclusion gap for the youth and women.
To our local partners, we are grateful to have you here and I hope that we will openly share our experiences and be open to learn from the others’ experiences.
Right Honorable, Prime Minister,
It is commendable that there has been concerted and coordinated efforts across the world to close the financial inclusion gap in different countries. The Alliance for Financial Inclusion that convened us here today is a product of such efforts.
It is a network of regulators and other policy makers, that have agreed to work together to ensure that every citizen in our respective countries has access to quality and affordable financial services and products. Let me take this opportunity to congratulate the AFI Board and management unit for a job well done to date.
Despite the commendable milestones achieved so far, we recognize that we still have a long way to go. We will not rest until the 1.7bn people still financially excluded are fully integrated.
This year’s theme “Using technology for inclusion of women and youth” comes at a time when the world is striving to achieve gender equality in all aspects as set under the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In particular SDG 5 on Gender and Equality, which aims at bringing to an end all forms of discrimination against women and girls. The selection of this was informed by the fact that globally, 56% of the unbanked population are women.
The World Bank data estimates that in 2018 female population was 49.5% of the world’s total population, whereas in Rwanda, the ratio is estimated at 50.9% of a total population of approx. 12.7 Million. These numbers imply that strong measures must be taken to create a conducive environment, for women to participate and benefit from all development opportunities. Having access to quality and affordable financial products and services is a foundation to the efforts to promote gender equality.
On the same note, projected numbers from the UN sustainable development goals, show that between 2015 and 2030, 1.9 billion people will turn 15 years old. This fast growing number of the youth calls for policy makers to double their efforts in supporting, and investing in the youth, because they present an opportunity for accelerated economic growth.
To address this issue of gender gap and youth financial exclusion, there is need to put in place global policies that will foster financial inclusion and provide solutions to improve the lives of the poor.
Recent advancements in technology and more specifically in the digital financial services presents great opportunities in reaching out to the poor and remote communities, particularly here in sub-Saharan Africa.
One good example I can give from Rwanda; is the changes we have noticed over the last two years in the number of individuals accessing loans from banks. With the introduction of micro digital loans by just 4 banks out of the 16 banks we have in the country, the number of individual borrowers has doubled within those two years.
It’s also evident that the beneficiaries of these micro loans thru the digital channels could originally not access loans from the banks. I’m therefore confident that digital financial solutions will allow us to make significant progress, opening a broader path to the goal of universal access to financial services.
Right Honorable, Prime Minister,
As I conclude, allow me to appreciate the steps that have been taken in bridging the financial exclusion gap in various countries around the world; Yes, we still have a long way to go but together we can.
The AFI network, has a number of promising initiatives, such as the Denarau action plan that was adopted in 2016 and the Sochi accord adopted in 2018 which represent the willingness of AFI members to bridge the women financial inclusion gap in the AFI network.
My humble call to each one of us here is to continue the journey of achieving universal access to financial services. Let us keep our AFI network shining and never leave anyone behind.
I wish you a fruitful GPF and a pleasant stay in Rwanda.