FG adopts new measures to achieve 20% adult exclusion target by 2020
• As stakeholders seek inclusive growth for economic sustainability
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said it has currently implemented more practical measures to reduce the percentage of adult Nigerians excluded from access to financial services and achieve 20 percent adult exclusion target by 2020. The Head, Financial Inclusion Secretariat of CBN, Joseph Attah while speaking in an interview with Journalists the Efina 2019 Financial Inclusion Conference held in Lagos recently, stated that the 20 percent exclusion target by 2020 is achievable, considering new measures adopted by the apex bank to drive the exercise.He disclosed that the CBN has created financial inclusion States theory committee to drive the exercise in various states of the federation.
According to him, the committee currently drives financial inclusion in their respective States with a mandate to close the gap by 2020.
“What we have done is to have deployed various responsibilities for ensuring that financial inclusion takes place in the states of the federation under what we call financial inclusion states theory committee.They are currently driving what happens in each of the states of the federation and for each state, we have given them the mandate that you must have to close that gap by the year 2020.”
Furthermore, he said the apex bank has engaged six most excluded states from the geopolitical zones on account opening exercise with more focus on market and agricultural centres to ensure that financial services providers are available at the centers for account opening exercise.
“Apart from that, there is something that happened just last week which is like we have found the key to close the gap, we engaged on what we called account opening week and we selected six states, much excluded by geopolitical zone.“We have Kano for North West, we have Gombe for North East, Nasarawa for North Central, we Bayelsa for South South, Ondo for South West and Ebonyi for South East.He continued: “We pilot-tested that and we have all the banks in Nigeria and the state governors of all the states we have mentioned, the financial services providers, all the agents, NIPOST and other members of financial inclusion state steering committee.
“We were able to identify very critical centers in the state like market, agricultural areas where you have clusters to make sure that these centers are manned and doors are opened for people to come and open accounts.“Very gladly, the mobilisation level is a high and state governors participated on the programme, and we launched on second phase and yesterday we concluded the exercise, the turnout was very impressive and the responses are massive.”
He added that the CBN has received approval to post youth corps members to financial institution and branches of banks especially those ones located in the rural areas to teach financial inclusions in those communities.“We have also received approval to post youth corps members to financial institution and branches of banks especially those ones located in the rural areas where they will be expected to only do financial inclusion program. He disclosed that the country presently achieved 36.8 percent of adult Nigerians excluded from financial services.
“We are supposed to reach 20 percent exclusion rate, which is about 16 .8 difference for us to cover, that might look like a very long way to go but we have managed to put in place structures.“This is in the areas of coordination arrangement and mobilisation of stakeholders. We believe very strongly that all the necessary structures are in place and we are very optimistic that by the end of next year, we will be able to reach the goal of 20 percent exclusion rate in Nigeria.”
The Deputy Governor of the CBN, Aishah Ahmad, who spoke on ‘Financial Inclusion as a Tool to Unlock Nigeria’s Potential and Enable Inclusive Economic Growth’, pointed out that the economy has been on a weak growth trajectory, coupled with poor productivity, and rising income inequality.
She submitted that the power to sustainable inclusive growth is hinged on women’s economic empowerment,She said: “Given that if this current weak global growth environment persists, coupled with increasing moves to change the energy structure from fossil fuels to non-fossil fuels that will affect the demand of oil, there is potential that all prices will be depressed, and this will threaten our physical consolidation efforts.”
On the ‘Assessment of Women’s Financial Inclusion in Nigeria’ Ahmad, underscored the need to strengthen financial literacy and women’s education, adding that the apex bank has approved some guidelines on unfair treatment, complex disclosures, and transparency for the industry that would be launched before the end of year.
The Chair, Board of Directors, EFInA, Segun Akerele, said co-ordinated actions by all critical stakeholders to work across institutions to unlock barriers in financial inclusion was paramount.He said since inception, EFINa has supported the CBN and stakeholders in driving financial inclusion initiatives in Nigeria by leveraging its pillars in research, innovation, advocacy and digital financial services.
According to him, the firm’s engagement with regulators has ensured the development of regulations that supports and promotes financial inclusion in Nigeria.“We recognise that we can through financial inclusion create the right enabling environment for ordinary Nigerians to achieve their potential and bring about inclusive growth.”
The Deputy British High Commissioner, Harriet Thompson, while speaking on the theme: ‘Bridging the Gender Gap: Empowering Women, Building Economies’, said cultural change limits opportunities for women to benefit from economic activities, noting that the anomaly has placed Nigeria at a disadvantaged position.She said increasing awareness of women’s equality is for the benefit of entire populace not just women alone, while stressing the need for concerted efforts from government, private sector and the civil society to bridge the gap.