Ngirente made the call today as he officially opened the 11th Alliance for Financial Inclusion Global Policy Forum (AFI) 2019 at Kigali Convention Centre.
Ngirente said that financial inclusion is considered as a tool for economic development, particularly in the area of improving welfare and the general standard of living, wealth creation as well as poverty reduction.
Statistics show that the world’s unbanked population dropped from 2.5 billion in 2011 to 1.7 billion in 2017.
The Premier explained that despite increasing financial inclusion, a big proportion of youth continue to be financially excluded and emphasized the need to empower the youth access to financial services.
“ In Sub-Saharan Africa, over 60% of the population fall below the age of 25, most of them are less likely to have a bank account compared to adults. Therefore, there is a great need to empower our youth to access useful and affordable financial products and services,” he said.
“In this regard, financial literacy could be the starting point in this process since many of the youth have a keen interest in the digital channel, Digital Financial Services accessed and delivered through their mobile phones, could be the solution to banking them,” added Ngirente.
In 2008, Rwanda conducted its first financial inclusion survey (FinScope Survey 2008). The results of this survey revealed that only 21% of adult Rwandans were formally financially included.
Ngirente explained that it was found important and urgent to implement initiatives that could make financial services accessible to all Rwandans faster. He reflected on Rwanda’s initiatives to drive citizens into financial inclusion pointing out the establishment of Savings & Credit Co-operatives program, locally known as UMURENGE SACCOs.
This program was put in place to make financial products and services (credits, savings, and payments) available throughout the country, especially in rural areas to increase the level of financial inclusion.
Ngirente highlighted that Rwanda invested a significant amount of effort and resources in establishing ICT infrastructure as a means to facilitate financial inclusion.
In the financial sector, digital financial services were given high emphasis to increase the level of financial inclusion. Some of these services including mobile financial services and internet banking services were introduced and are now well operational.
“Let us make sure that all our citizens are financially included and have access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs,” advised Ngirente.
With these remarks, I declare the 2019 Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) Global Policy Forum 2019 officially opened, and wish you fruitful deliberations.
The Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda, John Rwangombwa highlighted that having access to quality and affordable financial products and services is a foundation for the efforts to promote gender equality.
He stressed the need to continue the journey of achieving universal access to financial services, keep AFI network shining and never leave anyone behind.