By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief

ABUJA—Federal Government has announced a decision to make banking services more readily available to Nigerians with the establishment of Microfinance Develop-ment Fund, MDF, to enhance operations of microfinance banks in the country.

At the sixth Annual Microfinance Conference and Entrepreneurship awards in Abuja, yesterday, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, said: “The Microfinance Development Fund, MDF, would be established in 2012 to improve access to affordable and sustainable source of finance by Microfinance Institutions, MFIs, and Microfinance Banks, MFBs. It will have both commercial and social component. This will enhance their operations and outreach. It will also support the capacity building activities of the MFBs/MFIs.”

The CBN boss said that as many as 46.3 per cent of Nigerians had no access to banking facilities.
Sanusi said: “The repositioning of the microfinance sector to play a major role in entrepreneurship development in Nigeria has been hampered by a number of challenges, among which is the inadequate financial infrastructure leading to low banking penetration.

“At December 2011, the ratio of bank branch to total population was 24,224 persons, which indicates a high level financial exclusion.”

there were 24 deposit money banks with 5,789 branches and 816 microfinance banks, bringing the total bank branches to 6,605.

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