Nigeria targets 95% financial inclusion by 2024

...launches backing strategic policies

The federal government has launched five strategic policy reports in line with its goal of achieving its target of a 95 percent financial inclusion rate by 2024.

The reports are the Revised National Financial Inclusion Strategy, National Strategy for Leveraging Agent Networks for Women’s Financial Inclusion, National Fintech Strategy, Nigeria Financial Services Maps, and Payment System Vision 2025.

President Muhammadu Buhari unveiled the documents on Thursday at the international financial inclusion conference in Abuja.

While launching the strategies, he pledged the commitment of his administration to continuously support financial inclusion for the economic development of the country.

Represented by Muhammad Bello, minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Buhari said his administration has put in place several initiatives to enhance financial inclusion, especially of the underserved Nigerians, to boost their economic activities, adding that the introduction of the e-naira in 2021 was part of the efforts.

“This administration understands the impact of financial inclusion on economic development and as such has provided the enabling environment for financial inclusion initiatives to create the expected results,” he said.

He highlighted some of the programmes, which include the microfinance policy, policy for microinsurance and collective investment, and national strategy for digital economy.

“Financial service stakeholders have leveraged on that to provide financial services to our people, these innovations have also facilitated access to credit to rural dwellers and enable them to conduct their businesses without the need to travel far in search of the nearest bank branch,” Buhari said.

Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), said infrastructural deficits like low broadband penetration, lack of a functional national identity system, and high cost of delivering financial services through bank branches to the underserved contributed to Nigeria’s financial exclusion situation.

He said the focus on leveraging digital innovations to drive financial inclusion was one of the main motivations for the launch of the eNaira, the country’s digital currency.

“From 2012 to date, over 59 policies and initiatives have been implemented by stakeholders to achieve the objective of financial inclusion; these policies and initiatives cut across the banking sector, the insurance sector, the capital market, the pension sector and institutions responsible for infrastructural development for financial inclusion,” he said.

Emefiele noted that the focus on financial inclusion is imperative to ensure sustainable development and growth in the Nigerian economy.

“While our financial inclusion journey has been successful, we have set our sights on achieving a bigger target and a set of big priorities which are encapsulated in the revised National Financial Inclusion Strategy,” he said.

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In her keynote address, Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, who is the UN secretary-general’s special advocate for inclusive finance for development, stressed the need for action to seize available opportunities to achieve a common vision that every Nigerian can access quality financial services and close the financial gender divide in Nigeria which is significantly higher than the sub-Saharan average.

“There is a need to significantly increase access to digital finance education which is critical for service delivery; moving forward, the NIN and BVN can be leveraged to achieve the financial inclusion objective,” she said.

Aishah Ahmad, deputy governor at CBN, said in an interview that people in urban areas are more likely to access banking services than those in rural areas, adding that some efforts of the CBN such as the launch of the eNaira aim to bridge this gap.

Speaking about the financial inclusion target, she said there was a need to encourage people with the necessary resources to make it happen.

“We are making sure to leverage everything we have in terms of policies, technology, collaboration with regulators and innovators; we need to work on ensuring people do not fear digital financial services because of the potential risk on their data,” she said.

The National Financial Inclusion Strategy spearheads the country’s drive towards achieving the financial inclusion target of 95 percent by 2024 through increased adoption and usage of financial services in priority demographics, amongst others.

The strategy provides demand- and supply-side recommendations to drive the uptake and usage of fintechs in Nigeria, with strategic objectives of ecosystem and governance, as well as the priorities to deploy principle-based rules and infrastructure foundational to building a thriving fintech ecosystem and so on.

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