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Financial inclusion: Report shows North far behind

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Senate re-Introduces South West Development Commission Bill…Over 100m Nigerians earn less than N700 per day
…CBN suggests way forward

By Nkiruka Nnorom, Prince Okafor & Elizabeth Adegbesan

The latest financial inclusion report has indicated that the Northern parts of Nigeria are far more marginalized in financial services, just as the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, yesterday, suggested solutions to achieve a more inclusive economic growth.

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Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (EFInA) report titled: “Assessment of Women’s Financial Inclusion in Nigeria”, launched yesterday shows that over 100 million Nigerians earn less than N700 per day, which limits their ability to save or take risks on loans, thereby making them financially excluded.

The report also showed that 38.6 percent of Nigerians (76 million) are financially excluded with greater percentage being women and people from Northern extraction.

According to the report, financial exclusion stands at 36 percent for women and 24 percent for men, placing Nigeria below its peers at the relative gender gap of 20-30 percent.

The report further showed that 34.9 million (60 percent) adults in the North East and North West are financially excluded, while 46.6 percent (16.3 million) are female.

Aisha Ahmad, Deputy Governor, CBN, who spoke at the launch of the report titled, said that elevating economic participation and contribution of all citizens is the biggest opportunity for sustainable economic growth.

She stated: “I think it is pretty obvious that elevating the economic participation and contributions of all citizens including youths, women and other marginalized sectors in the economy, may be the biggest opportunity that we have at hand and it may be the key at revamping growth and making it sustainable,” she said.

To boost financial inclusion, Ahmad said: “A number of things have to be done but I want to just quickly end with some of the things we are doing on our sides that will still need to be addressed.

“We need gender disaggregated data but not only about gender. We just need data that sees to how your excluded groups are faring as you deploy initiatives.

“So, as an example, we launched the Shared Agent Network Expansion Facility (SANEF) in 2012 to try to grow the agent network. It’s been hugely successful over the last year since we have launched it. I think we moved from about over a 100,000 agents to 200,000 agents.

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“The second is digital identity. We have done a lot of work on Bank Verification Number, BVN. Today, we have 40 million Nigerians that have a digital financial identity. However, all Nigerians deserve to have this regardless of where they live and their economic status.

Vanguard

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