CBN to Reduce Percentage of Adults Excluded from Financial Services

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…Partners Edo on financial inclusion

Ndubuisi Francis, Udora Orizu in Abuja and Adibe Emenyonu in Benin

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), through its Financial Inclusion State Steering Committee (FISSCO), has said that its target is to reduce the percentage of adult Nigerians excluded from access to financial services from 46.3 per cent in 2010 to 20 per cent in 2020.

Branch Controller, Elizabeth Agu, disclosed this on Thursday during her inaugural speech at a meeting of the FISSCO in Abuja. Agu explained that the Nigerian National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) was launched in 2012, adding that the overall target is to reduce the percentage of adult Nigerians, excluded from access to financial services from 46.3 percent in 2010 to 20 percent in 2020.

According to her, “The broader aim of the target therefore, is that 80 per cent or more of our adults population should have access to and make use of financial services, with at least 70 per cent of that number in the formal sector.

“The cross cutting and diverse nature of the targeted services require collaborative efforts by stakeholders in the financial sector especially at the grassroots. In particular, financial service providers at the state level are pertinent to achieving at least 80 percent inclusion of adult population by the year 2020.”

She added: “Three years to the 2020 target, Nigeria was still at 41.6 per cent exclusion rate as revealed by the Access to financial services survey 2016 conducted by Efina. This underscores the need to work extra hard on the exclusion rate from now till year 2020.

“The CBN strongly believes that the 2020 target is attainable. The Bank is working on initiatives that are targeted at north east, north west and north central zones of the country where the exclusion rates are still very high. We intend to hold stakeholder’s workshops in those parts of the country to drill doe on strategic measures that will give us quick results. We are conceptualizing ways and means to reach out to women whose culture and religion require specialized products and channels.”

She added that the committee has devolved an appropriate governance arrangement for the implementation of the NFIS at the state level.

“We are therefore today inaugurating the financial inclusion state steering committee to be chaired by the branch controller of the central bank if Nigeria while the head of development finance office will serve as technical officer in the state in the state/committee.

“It is interesting to note that targets have been set for each state/FCT in Nigeria and FISSCO would now take the responsibility for achieving those targets at the grassroots.

Responding to questions regarding bank charges, she explained that the CBN consumer protection department, which ensures that customers do not have superior charges and when such charges occurs, “CBN ensures the money are paid back to them except for those that are excluded, so we are going to create awareness to reach out to more adults to be financially included and also be aware of the benefits.”

Also speaking at event, the Permanent Secretary FCTA, Mr. Christian Ohaa, represented by Saani Abukakar, applauded the laudable initiative by the CBN to reduce national adult financial exclusion rate in Nigeria to 20 percent by the year 2020.

He hinted that one of the ways to assist the masses to attain economic independence especially those at the bottom of the pyramid was to provide them adequate access to financial services in a convenient and affordable manner.

In a related development, Edo State government has said it would partner with the CBN to ease access to financial services for residents in the state especially the rural populace with an 80 percent target set for financial inclusion.

This move was disclosed yesterday by stakeholders in the financial services sector in the state during the inaugural meeting of the FISSCO, held in Benin City.

Secretary to the Edo State Government (SSG), Osarodion Ogie , while speaking at the occasion, stressed that the state was committed to reducing the exclusion rate by bringing financial services to the unbanked population as well as the rural poor.

He added that targeting those in semi-urban and rural communities would ensure inclusive growth, noting that such services will ultimately impact on livelihoods of Edo people and residents in far-flung rural areas

According to the SSG, “One of the ways of helping the masses is to ensure that the people, especially those at the bottom of the pyramid, have access to financial services in a convenient and affordable manner. This will go a long way in empowering them, especially those in vulnerable groups, women and rural dwellers.”

He expressed appreciation to the CBN for enlisting the state as a partner in its drive to address the financial exclusion, urging for collaboration among stakeholders including financial service providers, government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and local government councils.

Also speaking, Chairman of the Committee and Branch Controller, CBN, Edo State, Renner David Jumbo, said the Nigerian National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) is aimed at reducing the percentage of adult Nigerians excluded from access to financial services from 46.3 percent in 2010 to 20 percent in 2020.