Telcos Set to Drive Financial Inclusion, Inaugurates Committee

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Emma Okonji

Nigeria’s major telecoms operators, Globacom, 9Mobile, Airtel, MTN Nigeria, and ntel, have inaugurated the Telecommunications Financial Inclusion Committee, and also laid out the roadmap for deepening financial inclusion and financial literacy across Nigeria.

The initiative was sequel to its earlier meeting held on September 4, 2018, where the GSM operators articulated their commitment to deepening financial inclusion and providing Nigerians with access to a range of affordable financial services.

During the inauguration, the committee, which will operate within the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), laid out its mandate to include: to drive an awareness programme that will deepen financial literacy across the country, within the next three months; to leverage the committee’s assets in order to deliver the promised access to financial services to 90 million Nigerians over the next 30 months, through a combined mobile base, integrated identity systems, and distribution network; to work in collaboration with other stakeholders and engage proactively with the government to ensure the telecommunications sector contributes its quota to the national goal of attaining 80 per cent total financial inclusion and 70 per cent formal financial inclusion by 2020.

In the short-term, the committee aims to deliver financial services to up to 35 million Nigerians and increase financial literacy and awareness within 12 months. The longer term goal of delivering access to 90 million people across 773 local government areas by 2020 will be achieved through the conversion of it’s over one million airtime agents to mobile money agents.

In a statement released by ALTON Secretariat, the Chairman of ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo, was quoted as saying: “The inauguration of this committee is a positive and necessary first step to achieving our goals of improving inclusion and literacy. We are focused on delivering sustainable solutions to achieve long-term results. The potential of our sector’s participation in these efforts is enormous. The telecommunications subscribers database is the most comprehensive, our coverage is vast and this speaks to the potential that we have as a group to truly contribute to solving some of the challenges that have been faced so far.”

The purpose of the inauguration was defined as a formal introduction to the start of the journey, and more importantly, to reaffirm their commitments, and begin the process of defining the next steps in this initiative.
The committee also spent some time discussing the recent publication of exposure guidelines for the licensing and regulation of Payment Service Banks in Nigeria, articulating necessary next steps and direction.

“We commend the federal government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the recently released exposure guidelines for Payment Services Bank (PSB) License, a welcome development that will play a critical role in accelerating financial inclusion,” Adebayo said.
Secretary of the Committee, Johnson Oyewo of MTN Nigeria, said: “Our job is to ensure that our industry contributes effectively to financial inclusion and literacy in Nigeria. This committee is being inaugurated at an opportune time with the recent announcement by the CBN, allowing for an inclusive model that encourages all players to contribute towards driving financial inclusion in the country.”

The committee will meet fortnightly over the coming months to deliver on its mandate. The committee members include: Adebayo; Oladokun Oye (Airtel); Samuel Akinsola (ntel); Chinedu Anochirionye (ntel); Ismaila Suhailu (Ntel); Oluwaseun Omotosho (EMTS/9mobile); Chidozie Arinze (EMTS/9mobile); Johnson Oyewo (MTN Nigeria); Jane Amadi (MTN Nigeria); Esaie Diei (Globacom); Oluwatosin Cole (Globacom); Gbolahan Awonuga (ALTON Secretariat).