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Federal government unveils strategic policies

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By Usman Oladimeji

The policies are to boost Nigeria’s aim of 95% financial inclusion by 2024.

Nigeria’s pursuit of financial inclusion as a drive for boosting economic development and enhancing the aim of attaining a 95 percent financial inclusion rate by 2024 has received an uptick as the federal government of Nigeria rolled out five strategic policy reports. This was unveiled at the ongoing international financial inclusion conference in Abuja, tagged Financial Inclusion for all, Scaling Innovative Digital Models. At the event, President Muhammadu Buhari reiterates the government’s commitment to backing financial inclusion for the country’s economic development.

The five strategic policy reports unveiled are namely, the Revised National Financial Inclusion Strategy, National Strategy for leveraging agent networks for Women’s Financial Inclusion, National Fintech Strategy, Nigeria Financial Services Maps (NFSMaps) and Payment System Vision 2025. President Muhammed Buhari, who was represented by Muhammad Bello, minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), asserts that several interventions, such as the launch of the e-naira in 2021, have been implemented in order to expand the reach of financial inclusion, especially to underserved Nigerians.

Several programs were emplaced for financial institutions’ services.

He further explained that as part of the government’s continuous effort to fully harness the potential of financial inclusion, it has also rolled out several programs for financial institutions to leverage. The programs, which include the micro financial policy, policy for microinsurance and collective investment and national strategy for the digital economy, among others, have so far aided financial institutions in delivering quality financial service to the people and have facilitated rural areas residents’ access to credit without further hassle.

According to Godwin Emefiele, Governor of CBN, infrastructure shortcomings led to Nigeria’s financial exclusion predicament. These shortfalls include a lack of a working national identification system, poor internet penetration, and the high cost of supplying financial services through bank branches to the underserved. Emefiele said that the need to prioritize and harness the potential of digital technologies to increase financial inclusion was a driving factor in the introduction of the e-naira. He claims that players in the banking and insurance industries, among others, have implemented no less than 59 policies and initiatives from 2012 to 2022. This works toward the goal of increasing access to financial services.

Financial inclusion recorded only 5% growth from 2017 – 2021.

The CBN Governor noted that focusing on financial inclusion is critical to ensuring the Nigerian economy’s long-term development and growth. He added that with the financial inclusion aim onset, the priority is also on achieving further milestones encompassed in the revised National Financial Inclusion Strategy. Aishah Ahmad, the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) deputy governor, has said that the CBN’s activities aim to enclose the rural-urban divide. She also noted the need to mobilize, use appropriate resources, and work with regulators and innovators to accomplish this objective.

According to Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, the UN Secretary-Special General’s Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA), financial inclusion has grown by just 5% between 2017 and 2021, with a significant gender difference. After seeing the widespread use of digital transactions in rural regions, Queen Máxima has called for a nationwide push to expand access to financial services. She highlighted the National Identification Number (NIN) and Bank Verification Number (BVN) campaigns as practical tools for driving financial inclusion goals.

CBN established a Financial Inclusion Secretariat to facilitate the goal.

Increased acceptance and use of financial services in priority demographics, among other things, are at the heart of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy’s push to attain the financial inclusion objective of 95% by 2024. The bank has established a Financial Inclusion Secretariat to facilitate and coordinate the strategy’s implementation and is working on a framework to ensure the safety of consumers. Increasing rates of access to financial services are a direct result of the strategies execution.

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