By Ferdinand Maniraguha
International organizations have that admitted reaching hundred percent financial inclusion by 2020 is not possible though much has been done since that vision has been set.
At the 2015 World Bank Group-IMF Spring Meetings, they adopted measurable commitments to achieve Universal Financial Access by 2020 and help promote financial inclusion.
In 2011, 2.5 billion people were unbanked according to World Bank. That number reduced to 1.7 billion by 2017.
Dr Alfred Hannig, executive director of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) says that such objective is unlikely to be achieved on time.
He was speaking Tuesday at a press conference in Kigali, before a two day AFI Global policy forum 2019 program which kicked off this Thursday.
“I believe that this objectives have been quite optimistic , the timeline was very short and from our own experience, we can say that if you talk about hundred percent inclusion, we need to recognize that this take time”, he said
However, Hannig praised the decision of having set such vision, because it helped to put much efforts into bridging the gap between banked people and unbanked.
“From our point of view, the time that has been given it’s a little bit too short to achieve. On the other hand, the 2020 objective was also important looking to access to finance. The question is how can we achieve it in a very short time.”
He stressed that global financial inclusion may take up to 2030 to be achieved.
During the opening of 2019 AFI Global policy forum, Rwanda’s Prime Minister Dr Edouard Ngirente urged countries to shift their focus on digital finance by bringing youth on the run.
He said that in Sub-Saharan Africa, over 60% of the population fall below age of 25, most of them are less likely to have a bank account compared to adults.
Bringing youth on board, Dr Ngirente said that financial institutions have to use technology which attract them.
“In this regard, financial literacy could be the starting point in this process since many of the youth have a keen interest in digital channel, digital financial services accessed and delivered through their mobile phones, could be the solution to banking them” said Ngirente.
One of the problems that still hinders financial inclusion, is a big number of women who are unbanked, because 56% of the unbanked population are women.
Rwanda Central Bank Governor, John Rwangombwa warned that the SDG 5 will not be achieved if women are excluded financially.
SDG5 on Gender and Equality, aims at bringing to an end all forms of discrimination against women and girls.
“These numbers imply that strong measures must be taken to create a conducive environment, for women to participate and benefit from all development opportunities” he said before adding that “Having access to quality and affordable financial products and services is a foundation to the efforts to promote gender equality.”
AFI says that since 2011 there is a 9 % gender gap in financial inclusion globally that needs to be bridged.