Fintechs, Bankers, Policymakers Gather as Financial Inclusion Confab Begins Today
•Buhari, Emefiele, others to grace occasion as CBN targets 95% inclusion by 2024
James Emejo in Abuja
All is set for the maiden International Financial Inclusion Conference 2022 (IFIC’22) which President Muhammadu Buhari is expected, to be declared open today.
The event, scheduled to commence today, is the first of its kind since the launch of the Nigerian Financial Inclusion Strategy in 2012.
The conference, which would be graced by influencers, thinkers, and policymakers in the global financial ecosystem, will discuss policies, practices, approaches, tools, technologies as well as products and services to further deepen access to financial services in the country.
The National Financial Inclusion Steering Committee (NFISC) which is headed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had announced that Buhari would be the guest of honour at the conference themed: “Financial Inclusion for All: Scaling Innovative Digital Models.”
A statement by the NFITC Secretariat which was signed by Dr. Paul Oluikpe, further disclosed that the conference would feature the launch of the revised National Financial Inclusion Strategy, the Nigeria Financial Services Maps (NFS Maps), the Women Agent Framework, the National Fintech Strategy and the Payment System Vision 2025.
It would also showcase the Innovation Labs exhibition highlighting innovative products and solutions and the financial inclusion awards, which recognises stakeholders who have contributed to tackling exclusion and the advancement of financial inclusion in Nigeria.
The organisers said the event would help Nigeria lead an important global conversation on the journey to closing the financial inclusion gap for the last mile in Sub-Saharan Africa and globally.
Commenting on the conference, CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who also chairs the NFISC said, “We are excited to host the maiden International Financial Inclusion Conference in Nigeria. The conference presents a unique opportunity to showcase our financial inclusion journey, particularly the innovative use cases that continue to emerge within the dynamic payments and financial system in the country.”
He added, “These will be important as we work to ensure 95 per cent of Nigerians are financially included by 2024. The conference also creates a platform to spotlight other countries’ experiences, the role of policy innovation, digital technology, and out-of-the-box approaches in tackling exclusion in underserved segments, and the strategic importance of public-private partnerships to promote digital financial services and economic sustainability.”
The IFIC’22 would bring together delegates, experts, and speakers across the world to examine the opportunities, and identifying concrete solutions and interventions that would ensure the achievement of the nation’s financial inclusion objectives.
Other distinguished personalities expected at the conference are the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, and the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr. Isa Ali Pantami.
Also, others are the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Mrs. Elsie Addo- Awadzi; Special Adviser to the President, International Labour Organisation (ILO), Ambassador Chad Blackman; Executive Director, Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI), Dr. Alfred Hannig, and Deputy Governor of CBN, Mrs. Aishah Ahmad.
In addition, participants include the Group CEO of Access Holdings Plc, Mr. Herbert Wigwe; Senior Programme Office, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ms. Anna Wallace and the CEO of Financial Alliance for Women, Ms. Inez Murray; Former Deputy Governor Central Bank of Lesotho & Chair Expert Leaders Group of the Graca Machel Trust, Ms. Gail Makenete; the CEO of PAPSS, Mr. Mike Ogbalu III, and Associate Dean of the Lagos Business School, Professor Olayinka David-West, amongst others.
According to Oluikpe, “The NFIS set the target for financial inclusion in Nigeria at 80.0 per cent by 2020. But since its launch, advancements have been recorded in financial inclusion, resulting in the exclusion rate dropping from 46.3 per cent in 2010 to 35.9 per cent in 2020 (despite significant annual growth in the eligible bankable population per annum) according to the Access to Financial Services Survey conducted by EFINA. The national target for inclusion has since been revised to 95 per cent by 2024.”
He attributed the progress recorded in NFIS to the significant evolution of the Nigerian payments and financial system driven by rapid technological innovation, the emergence of a vibrant digital economy, and the proactive regulatory policies of the CBN and other policymakers.
He said the ever-increasing diversity of participants, products, and services deployed within the financial ecosystem presents unique opportunities to fast-track the expansion of financial inclusion to a greater number of Nigerians, closing the inclusion gaps in selected segments such as the youth, rural dwellers, and women.