Opening Remarks by AFI Deputy Executive Director Norbert Mumba
Wednesday, 27 November 2019
High-Level Dialogue on Financial Inclusion in Guinea and Africa (DIA’FIN) II
Your Excellency Mr. Ibrahima Kassory Fofana, Prime Minister of the Republic of Guinea,
Distinguished Senior Government officials
Dr. Louncény Nabe, Governor of Banque Centrale de la Republique de Guinée,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning and thank you for the very warm welcome you accorded us all to Conakry, Guinea. Your Excellency, on behalf of the Executive Director, Dr Alfred Hannig and the Alliance for Financial Inclusion, I would like to extend our warmest congratulations to the Government and Banque Central de la Republic of Guinea for holding this important forum on the theme financial inclusion and entrepreneurship for youth and women. Such events at national level and regional level are important as they build the momentum in enhancing ownership and coordination of national financial inclusion strategies.
Allow me to also express my gratitude to the Republic of Guinea and Bank of Central Republic of Guinea for the invitation and warm reception accorded to all of us and the fantastic arrangements put in place. It is a great pleasure for me to be here in this beautiful country.
Banque Centrale de la Republique de Guinée has been a principal member of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) since 2009 and has been actively participating in its activities and it has contributed greatly to the work of the network.
Ladies and gentlemen let me to start by sharing with you the current progress of financial inclusion. Globally 515 million adults / (69%) own account and this is an increase of seven percentage points since 2014. The increase on account ownership has been driven by the rise of digital payments, government policies and a new generation of financial services accessed through mobile phones and the internet.
However, despite this progress, about 1.7 billion adults globally remain unbanked — without an account at a financial institution or through a mobile money provider. The global gap between men and women in account ownership has remain almost without change since 2011, with a gender gap of 7% between men and women account ownership, globally, and of 9% in developing countries.
Youth also represents a segment of population who are lagging behind, particularly in developing countries representing 90% of total youths, with a 43% of financially excluded population compared to 18% in developed countries. SME finance represents an opportunity to provide employment to 21% of youths that currently have no employment or education opportunities and to 42% of youths that currently are studying but have no employment.
Hon Prime Minister, these figures suggest we all have a responsibility to work with government to create a policy environment that is both inclusive of disadvantaged segments of our society such as youth, women and forcibly displaced persons.
Ladies and gentlemen, as I was reflecting on the importance of this conference, I had a very important policy question which is, ‘are our financial inclusion policies helping our people to lift them out of poverty and what more can we do?
In response allow me to share some of AFI networks’ approaches from a global perspective that aim to broaden financial inclusion for all particularly those policies that target women and other important segments of our society.
(i) 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.
(ii) 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.
(iii) Entreprenuership for Youth and Women - Deliberate Policy Approaches
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 the import economic drivers, 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, there is need to devise policies will guide the country on effective implementation of a programs that will accelerate the national gender gap between men and women. Guinea, Conakry can leverage the Denarau Action Plan (2016), another Accord from the network, to devise appropriate policy interventions.
AFI has also recently developed the Policy Framework for Women’s Financial Inclusion using Digital Financial Services. The framework explains the interplay of four critical considerations that are Demand side, Gender- sensitive DFS Policy Legislation, Regulation and Infrastructure. These 4 considerations could be taken by policy makers to advance the agenda of women’s financial inclusion through DFS usage.
Globally, young people account for approximately 24% of the working poor and this dynamic is particularly pronounced in Africa, where over 70% of youth subsist on US$2 per day or less. Although the world’s youth population is expected to grow, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for young women and men remain limited – particularly for those living in economically stagnant rural areas of developing countries (FAO, 2018).
Sub-Saharan Africa has 44 million MSMEs, the majority of which (97 percent) are microenterprises. Data shows that more recently founded SMEs create more jobs than older ones. Thus, playing a central role in creating jobs and enhancing growth and innovation. Africa’s youth bulge has the potential to translate into a dividend for the continent through the creation of enterprises that not only contribute towards economic growth, but also create jobs for their fellow youth.
Many African countries do not have thriving support ecosystems that facilitate youth entrepreneurship. Apart from that, there is no dedicated one stop solution that caters to the needs of entrepreneurs across the continent, providing support to the entire spectrum of entrepreneurship sectors and stages of growth.
We also see issues relating to cross-border remittances and interoperability as issues that require further policy refinement in the region. With a proportion of the population still outside the country and also a significant amount of trade with neighbouring countries, 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.
Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises
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 East Africa and Ghana
Climate Mitigation and Adaptation
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 4P’s (Promote Provide Protect and Prevent). 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 Guinea has made on financial inclusion.
In conclusion, we see technology through leveraging digital platforms for inclusion education and literacy, effective National Coordination on financial inclusion objectives, Gender Inclusive Finance, Inclusive Green Finance, MSME access to financial services and sustainable financial inclusion policies as being key to broadening the horizon for financial inclusion and entrepreneurship in Conakry, Guinea, and globally. This should of course be supported by active participation by all players in the economy as this is not for government alone.
Allow me to end with a call for action to all regulators, fintech and industry players as well as other stakeholders in the eco-system to leverage digital technologies in a responsible and safe manner to reach out to vulnerable sections of the society.
Once again we thank you for inviting us to this important conference and reiterate the key leadership role that the central bank of Guinea and all key institutions here present have played in the implementation of financial inclusion policies in this country. AFI remains ready to support your financial inclusion drive.