By Emma Okonji
The EFInA has welcomed the additional funding commitment from UK Aid, part of a £320 million package that will initiate an ambitious new phase of financial sector development across the African continent.
Announced at the UK-Africa Investment Summit in London, the package includes additional funding for nine existing Financial Sector Deepening Programmes (FSDs) and to set up and scale new FSDs in high-priority markets, including Ethiopia, Ghana, Sierra Leone and the West African Monetary Union.
The new commitment, announced by UK International Development Secretary, Alok Sharma, represented the start of an important new approach to financial sector development in sub-Saharan Africa.
The package from UK Aid recognises that a comprehensive, integrated approach to financial market development in Africa is required to realise the continent’s potential and help meet the United Nation’s global goals.
The £320 million commitment provides funding for ambitious programmes that create financing solutions for the opportunities and challenges faced across Africa’s economies, from individual households and micro-enterprises to business and infrastructure investment.
It is expected to help address the entire system of finance from savings groups to capital market development and operating more closely to the interface between finance and the real world.
According to Sharma, “Africa’s substantial investment potential is clear, with many African countries outstripping global economic growth in recent decades. The UK is already the top financial exchange for Africa’s businesses and we want investors to seize the exciting opportunities that Africa offers.
“These new initiatives, announced ahead of the UK-Africa Investment Summit, will make it easier, greener and more secure to invest in Africa, mobilising billions of pounds of sustainable investment to help end poverty.”
The Chairman of EFInA’s Board, Segun Akerele, said: “EFInA’s catalytic and strategic collaboration with financial service regulators, operators and providers has contributed to 28 million additional Nigerians accessing formal financial services since EFInA was established in late 2007, thereby reducing financial exclusion from 52.5 per cent in 2008 to 36.8 per cent as of 2018.
“Through research, advocacy, capacity building, and promoting innovation, EFInA has provided the critical support required to expand access to affordable, relevant financial services to all Nigerians, including under-served groups such as women and Northern Nigerians.”
In the wake of this new commitment, Head of Programmes at EFInA, Ashley Immanuel, said EFInA would build on its foundational work promoting financial inclusion and identify linkages with other sectors, such as agriculture, health, and education, that can drive progress toward meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Nigeria.
The £320 million package also marked an important step forward for the FSD Network.
Chair of the FSD Network Council, Betty Wilkinson, commented on the commitment, saying, “On behalf of the nine existing members of the FSD Network and those new FSDs in formation, our sincere gratitude to the UK Government for this generous, constructive, and thoughtful five-year commitment.
“We pledge to broaden and deepen our innovative work across Africa to make money work for low-income families, women, youth, the excluded, and those who need financial services the most.
“This new package will enable us to apply finance, in all its forms, to the challenge of the Sustainable Development Goals. The FSD Network will enhance livelihoods for poor people; improve access to basic human services where finance is a barrier; and enable a sustainable future, particularly addressing the financial aspects of climate change and illicit capital flows.”