AFI Executive Director Dr. Alfred Hannig opens CBSL-AFI Virtual Member Training on NFIS Implementation & Monitoring, 6 July 2020.

CBSL-AFI Virtual Member Training on Implementation and Monitoring of National Financial Inclusion Strategy
6-8 July 2020

Opening Remarks by Dr. Alfred Hannig, Executive Director, AFI

Good day and a warm welcome to the CBSL-AFI Virtual Member Training on Implementation and Monitoring of National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS).  

Let me start by thanking the honorable Governor and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) for co-hosting this virtual Member Training. Initially, when we agreed on this training early in the year, it was meant to be an in-person event but due to the COVID-19 pandemic we appreciate that CBSL has agreed to change and support the delivery of the training virtually. 

We are seeing in 2020, the global scenario changed drastically with the health crisis impacting also the global economy. Recently, IMF has revised its World Economic Outlook forecasting the global growth to be at -4.9 percent for 2020 as well as predicting slower economic recovery for almost all the countries. The current situation demands us to focus on crisis response and the role financial inclusion can play in the recovery. This training is timely as it affords us an opportunity to also take into account how the NFIS could be designed or adjusted to integrate crisis response and recovery in its initiatives.

CBSL has been at the forefront of developing the NFIS in Sri Lanka and its indeed great to hear that the framework will be launched in 2020. I am confident that the NFIS will certainly help to further advance the financial inclusion agenda in Sri Lanka and provide more accessible, effective, efficient, and affordable financial services, which are responsive to the needs of the population. While Sri Lanka has made significant strides in providing access (around 75 percent) to its population, the NFIS will certainly provide further impetus to “usage” and “quality” dimensions contributing to a stronger and resilient economy leading to sustainable growth in the coming years. Governor Lakshman, AFI will be pleased to collaborate with CBSL on its priorities as it moves towards the implementation phase of the NFIS given the rich experience and expertise within the AFI Network .

Developing NFIS is also one of the core focus areas and priority for most of SAARC nations such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives, and Afghanistan. We understand AFI members in these countries are all working towards finalizing and implementing their NFIS. Bhutan and Pakistan have already launched their NFIS and are making significant strides towards implementation and achieving its action plan targets. I believe this Member training on NFIS is very timely which we hope will build and enhance the capacity of staff to develop and implement NFIS in their respective countries.

Ladies and gentlemen, for AFI to continue delivering its services during this challenging time, AFI’s capacity building offers short sessions for two to three hours and also training such as these, which are longer and cover the topic in detail. For the longer training course, we are offering the same training in two groups at different time zones, so that members can choose a time convenient to them.

In addition, our online course on Certified Expert in Financial Inclusion (CEFI) that we collaborated with Frankfurt School of Finance & Management has received good response as people take advantage of the current lockdown or movement restrictions. Allow me to invite everyone here who are interested to sign up for the online course as the registration for the next intake is currently ongoing.

The Member Training on Financial Inclusion Strategy and Financial Inclusion Data has been running for the longest time due to increasing demand and the focus changed from designing to implementing NFIS. Thus, this year, we decided to run the Member Training on Financial Inclusion Strategy and Financial Inclusion Data separately, giving each topic its due attention. The close relation between the two is however recognized in both the trainings. We have 80 participants registered across two groups representing 38 member institutions.

AFI network currently has 99 member institutions from 88 countries where 41 countries already have a documented NFIS and 15 are in some stage of development of an NFIS.  The alliance has made 82 Maya Declaration Commitments on some aspect of development, implementation and revision with additional initiatives of NFIS. Given the critical importance of having an NFIS and continuous review and revision of it in order to remain effective, it is only imperative that AFI continues to build capacities on the topic.  

Colleagues allow me to emphasize, a National financial inclusion strategy is an important tool to ensure that there is a defined way of enhancing financial inclusion and that the progress is measured. It also ensures that the effort is comprehensive, effective, and inclusive by including all relevant stakeholders. Having a documented and yet dynamic NFIS is a key step in ensuring that financial inclusion targets are achieved.

AFI trainings are based on knowledge products developed by the AFI Working Groups. In this training we will share the NFIS Policy Model which delineates the AFI Member network’s good practices and approaches related to devising and implementing NFIS. This Policy Model also provides guidance on the pre-formulation, formulation, implementation and monitoring and evaluation phases in a NFIS. The model is currently open for public comments. We hope you will take interest and share your feedback, especially after this training. 

In view of many AFI member institutions within the network who are now in the advanced phases of developing an NFIS, the training also emphasizes on the implementation as well as monitoring and evaluation of the NFIS. We will also be sharing the NFIS Monitoring and Evaluation Toolkit, our newly developed knowledge product that provides practical guidance in systematically and efficiently monitoring and evaluating progress and results of NFIS interventions aimed at promoting financial inclusion.

Over the past few years, our members have been putting increasing focus on leveraging financial inclusion to address broader development objectives. This includes areas such as Gender Inclusive Finance as well as Inclusive Green Finance. With the adoption of the Kigali Statement at the 2019 GPF the members have also made significant commitments towards enhancing Youth financial inclusion. 

During the training, we will also put a special focus on gender and financial inclusion by discussing the strategies that will help reach the goal of halving the gender gap by 2021 as per the commitment of the network under the Denarau Action Plan (DAP). This can be done by integrating Gender Inclusive Finance (GIF) initiatives in the strategy, getting the gender balance right in the multi-stakeholder coordination as well as monitoring gender related indicators during monitoring and evaluation of NFIS.

Financial inclusion is among the very few solutions available that can immediately address the issues facing hard-hit economies across the global membership of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion. Against this background, AFI has launched the AFI COVID-19 Policy Response on 1 April aiming to deliver systematic, effective and coordinated policy responses to help AFI members mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on financial inclusion policy implementation, especially for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) and the most vulnerable segments of the population. Among the measures adopted in this initiative is collection of data and examples of effective policy responses and solutions enacted by AFI members, as well as regular virtual exchanges through series of webinars with member institutions, support for in-country work by a combination of small, quick and flexible grants to member institutions, tailored capacity building and advisory services, as well as short-term emergency packages and medium-term recovery support. 

In conclusion, understanding the need for a holistic approach to financial inclusion and economic growth together with an all-inclusive model of comprehensive coordination should be a key takeaway from this training. We look forward to your active participation and contribution to this training. Your feedback is invaluable to us, please share your thoughts with our team who will be with you through these three days.

Thank you to both the CBSL and AFI teams for all their support and effort in organizing this. I wish everyone fruitful deliberations.

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