Updated: Oct 30
For more than two decades the financial inclusion of households and businesses, as a factor of economic and social development, has become a major issue among African nations. To analyse how it has evolved, institutions and regulatory bodies focus on three dimensions: "access", "use" and "affordability" of financial products and services. In 2020, an improvement in financial inclusion was observed with an overall rate of 63.8%. Despite these improvements, barriers remain for households and businesses. For the access rate to improve further we have identified 4 pillars of action:
The populations most in need of financial services are often distrustful or quite simply lack information. Stakeholders hoping to increase the rate of access to and use of financial services should take more time upstream to build links through (individual and group discussions in places where people come together socially, schools and professional associations and women's associations). This investment in relationship building will motivate and encourage a potential client base.
Make services more local:
Usually, people ask for services and products adapted to their context. MFIs and banks should be encouraged to develop a policy of densifying their distribution network and increasing the number of low-cost local service points, through neighbourhood shops and sales kiosks using electronic money issuing machines.
Create digital services:
Establishing a culture of using digital services for buying and selling goods and services, applying for credit, transferring money, settling bills, etc. Digital services make it possible to reduce the distances travelled to carry out a transaction so that people save on time which they can use for other economic activities and allows them to make savings.
Support financial education:
Equipping customers, especially the most vulnerable, with financial education skills. Basic bookkeeping is simple but necessary. Also, concepts such as budgeting and saving are important for both businesses and individuals. These concepts can bridge the gap in financial inclusion with other themes such as life skills workshops, market research and simplified business plans.
Fortuné CODO is an Economist-Manager, expert in private sector development, project management and local development, inclusive and agricultural finance, management / coaching in entrepreneurship and organisations with over 25 years of experience. Mr Fortuné CODO has worked in Benin, Mali, Togo, Ghana, Gabon, Guinea and the Central African Republic. He is one of AEI's experts.