An array of financial experts recently gathered at the maiden Financial Inclusion Seminar organised by Accion Microfinance Bank in commemoration of its 10th anniversary to deliberate on the theme: “Making Financial Inclusion a Certainty in Nigeria by 2020.”
The experts include: Chairman, Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access, EFInA, Mrs. Modupe Ladipo; DG/CEO, National Identity Management Commission, Engr. Aliyu Aziz; Vice President, International Finance Corporation, Mr. Jingdong Hua; president, National Association of Microfinance Banks, Mr. Rogers Nwoke, Head, Financial Inclusion Secretariat, CBN, Mrs. Temitope Akin-Fadeyi; among others. Excerpt:
By Providence Emmanuel
Chairman, EFInA, Mrs. Modupe Ladipo:
Central Bank of Nigeria has developed policies from the microfinance policy, especially around mobile money, agent network, non-interest banking, among others. We have developed policies across the board, including the National Financial Inclusion policy extensively worked on with the CBN. Some of the service providers have concluded that the low income earners have some form of income, but do not want to use it in the formal financial space.
From 53.5 percent excluded in 2008, covering more than 20,000 adult, in 2016, which was the last time we did the survey, 41.6 percent adult population were excluded. If you look at the 53.5 percent and 41.6 percent, progress was made, however, if you compare the exclusion number with the previous data in 2014, you will find that there was a slight increase, in 2014 it was 39.5 percent and in 2016 it was 41.6 percent.
We have a strategy that says that by the year 2020, the number of the excluded should be 20 percent. Much has been achieved but there are still much to be done. Some of the things we should be focusing on for the microfinance sector are whether the N20 million minimum for Unit microfinance bank makes any sense because we see revocation of licences every year and that leads to lack of trust in the industry.
We need to think of how to deploy agent network cost effectively, particularly in the rural area where there are no connectivity. In most countries where we see significant decrease of the excluded, mobile money has played a significant role. We also need to look at cost structure that can be put in place that makes sense for all individuals and then for the non government organization, NGO, bill, I want to say that it is something that would kill financial inclusion in Nigeria.
Deputy Director, National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Mrs. Carolyne Folami: We are one of the agencies that are passionate about financial inclusion. The act was set up in 2007 and entrusted to build data base; ensure every Nigerian gets a national identity number; issue a multiple purpose general card; among others. We have the mandate to ensure that we enroll about 180 million Nigerians. In 2012 when we started enrolment, we had only 60 thousand Nigerians enrolled but today, we have about 28 million unique national identity number and we can verify them.
As at 2015 we had a boost by the federal government which mandated that every single data base be harmonised into the national identity data base. At a time in 2016, we only had seven million Nigerians but with the harmonization and with collaboration from CBN via BVN, NCC and others we were able to get into the data base 28 million Nigerians. Adequate funding has been our biggest challenge.
Head, Apis Partners Africa Limited, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi: I am a private equity operator and we have a fund of $27 million to invest across Africa and South Asia. So when I look at statistics that compare Nigeria with other countries, then what is clear is that we have a long way to go. If you take insurance penetration, Nigeria is 0.3 percent, Kenya four percent. To achieve financial inclusion, in my view, I don’t think is about microfinance.
There is a lot that needs to be done that would catalyze a lot of things to happen. These people have telephone lines but the question is how we can ensure that we get them to use these lines to get into the financial industry. A lot of things are not about policies, it is about implementation, we have the policies.
In my view, what we have to deal with is beyond microfinance, it is beyond even the CBN, there needs to be a correlation where stakeholders would start looking into the challenges. The Tanzanian GSM conference annual report revealed: “mobile money is available in low and medium income countries, mobile money providers are processing on average, 30 thousand transactions per minutes and more than 43 million transactions per day and transaction process in 2016 is 22 billion. So much money can come into this country from what we have talked about but the enabling environment to achieve this is the challenge.