AFI Deputy Executive Director Norbert Mumba delivers his opening remarks during the first Working Group Leaders 2020 Virtual Meeting

Working Group Leaders 2020 Virtual Meeting
Tuesday, 10 March 2020 

Opening Remarks by Norbert Mumba, Deputy Executive Director, AFI

A very good day to you all and good evening from Kuala Lumpur! 

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the Working Group Leaders 2020 Virtual Meeting. This is the first meeting that we are conducting virtually as we face the challenges that COVID-19 has placed upon us, so please expect this modality to be used more often moving forward until the situation improves and we return to our normal ways. While our current experiences pose challenges, they are also a stark reminder that financial inclusion for all can mitigate the impact of such emergencies. 

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all members present today for your leadership, commitment and passion in ensuring that the working groups remain an essential platform for policy lessons, peer learning and best practices for the network despite the global emergency that has affected more than 100 countries. 

As you are all aware, AFI Management Unit last week decided to cancel all events scheduled between 9 March 2020 and 22 May 2020, as our priority is to ensure the health and safety of our members and staff. Nevertheless, let me remind everyone that this challenge should not stop our work in financial inclusion. The team has developed alternative modalities with action plans that we will be leveraging on, such as telecommunications technology, to ensure we are still able to attain our objectives in the most timely and efficient manner.

AFI will be conducting a series of virtual working group meetings, as it is critical to ensure the continuation of our policy work. We look to you, as working group leaders and working group managers, to attain our objectives. This will be the way forward to ensure that our deliverables are completed on time.  

Globally, we are witnessing the transformative impact of combining FinTech innovation and responsive regulation in deepening financial inclusion. As we celebrate the catalytic role of digital financial services in deepening financial inclusion, we need to look further into how it has impacted countries' economic development, financial stability and integrity through policy topics centering on inclusive growth and development.

It is imperative that our interventions prove effective in closing the financial inclusion gender gap in access and in the use of financial services to ensure inclusive growth and the attainment of sustainable development goals. Within each working group, there is a need for peer learning that highlights the challenges and explores use cases by members in mitigating social inequality and poverty.

The deliverables from this discussion may assist and guide AFI in providing effective in-country implementation services to members. Additionally, for us to discuss the future of financial inclusion, we need to look into and address the financial health of consumers. 

I believe that I have said this before and let me re-emphasize it again, the working groups and regional initiatives are the main engine drivers of the network’s financial inclusion interventions. Working groups were an initial key step of AFI in providing policymakers with network-wide guidance and highlighting member best practices that ensure financial stability, financial integrity and a deeper financial sector. 

AFI is progressing in its Phase III Strategy journey, which focuses on two main areas: policy guidance and in-country implementation for its members. The effectiveness of this strategy would not be possible without practical tools to aid the implementation of policies developed by the working groups.

As the backbone to driving forward the implementation and realization of AFI’s Phase III strategy, your role here today is of critical importance in finding innovative solutions to progress our work and deliverables forward. 

Before I conclude, I wish to reiterate the critical role that you all will play in the implementation and realization of the deliverables mapped out in the action plans that have been developed. Finally, I wish to thank everyone again for their participation and to the AFI team for arranging this meeting with the working group leaders. 

I wish to thank you for your commitment which is demonstrated by your joining us from different parts of the world in different time zones.

I wish you all a fruitful and positive deliberations. 

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