The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) have finalised plans to drive financial inclusion in the country.
During the discussions, Folashodun Shonubi, CBN’s Acting Governor reiterated the commitment of the apex bank to continually partner with BMGF and other development partners, according to a statement from the apex bank last week.
Shonubi said in that statement that such partnership would be to explore innovative solutions for driving access to finance.“Though much progress had been made in various aspects of financial inclusion, some challenges still remained in attaining the desired level of financial inclusion in Nigeria,” he said.
He, therefore, called for greater partnership between the apex bank and the BMGF.
In 2012, Nigeria developed its first financial inclusion strategy with the target of bringing up to 80 percent of its population into the financial system by 2020, according to Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access, a financial sector development organisation.
The country failed to meet the target as financial inclusion grew to 64.1 percent in 2020 from 63.2 percent in 2018. Although the inclusion rate dropped marginally from 36.8 percent in 2018 to 35.9 percent in 2020, the excluded adult population of 38.1 million in 2020 was higher than the 36.6 million in 2018, meaning 1.5 million adults fell into the exclusion circle in the last two years to 2020.
According to the CBN, the BMGF has supported financial inclusion in Nigeria since 2012.
“It has been a strategic partner of the CBN in driving innovation to reach excluded segments of Nigeria’s population with financial products and services,” it said.
It added that the partnership has brought about strategic initiatives such as the Nigeria Financial Services Maps, (a gateway for geospatial mapping of access points), and the development of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy in 2012 and a revision in 2018.
“It has also brought about research into financial exclusion, scoping of digital financial services in Nigeria, and many more activities that help accelerate access to financial services.”
In his remarks, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said the foundation’s focus areas for continued engagement in Nigeria included health, agriculture and financial services.
He expressed satisfaction that support from his organisation was catalysing developmental action in Nigeria.
Gates, however, noted that there were still challenges and gaps, and expressed optimism that Nigeria would witness better outcomes given the new economic and monetary policies currently in place.