EUCLID MYKE, Abuja
ABOUT two billion adults worldwide do not have basic bank account just as 59 per cent of adults cannot fund their accounts due to lack of funding and also 200million formal and informal micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in emerging economies lack adequate financing to thrive and grow.
This was contained in a lecture delivered over the weekend by the Director General, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) Ahmed Kuru at Center for Financial Journalism (CFJ Nigeria) for Financial Journalists and Bankers Communications Manager’s Parley in Lagos with the theme: “Deepening Financial Inclusion: Role of Financial Journalists and Banks’ Communications Managers”.Kuru, who hinged his presentation on the latest report from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that Nigeria has exited its worst economic recession in more than two decades, with an economy growing at 0.55 per cent in the second quarter of 2017, pointed that a lot of people especially in growing economies are outside the bracket of financial inclusion, making it difficult to sustain economic growth.Referring to a World Bank Group (WBG) report, Kuru said, “Financial Inclusion means the ability of individuals and businesses to have access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs – transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance that are delivered in a responsible and sustainable way”.
“From available data from the World Bank Group (WGP),there is need for all stakeholders to double their efforts because millions of people in Nigeria are still financially excluded and across the world the figure is in billions.While we can actually say that there has been progress toward financial inclusion, Nigeria and the world still grapple with significant challenge.”An estimated 2 billion adults worldwide do not have a basic bank account. Globally, 59 per cent of adults without an account cite a lack of enough money as a key reason, which implies that financial services are not yet affordable or designed to fit low income users.”Other barriers to account-opening include distance from a financial service provider, lack of necessary documentation papers, lack of trust in financial service providers, and religion.”More than 200 million formal and informal micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in emerging economies (such as Nigeria) lack adequate financing to thrive and grow. MSMEs cite a lack of collateral and credit history, and business informality as main reasons for not having an account.
“Some groups are more financially excluded than others: Women, rural poor, and other remote or hard-to-reach populations, as well as informal micro and small firms are most affected. For example, the gender gap in developing countries is estimated at 9 percentage points: 59 per cent of men reported having an account in 2014, while only 50 per cent of women did.
“The forcibly displaced populations present one of the most pressing financial inclusion challenges as almost 80 per cent in adults in Fragile and Conflict-Affected States are outside the formal financial system. A good local example is our Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) as a result of insurgence among other forms of disasters” Kuru stated.The AMCON boss said that owning a bank account is a first step toward financial inclusion since it allows people to store money, send and receive payments, facilitates day-to-day living, helps families and businesses plan for everything from long-term goals to unexpected emergencies and also expose people to other monetary and business facilities such as credit and insurance, to start and expand businesses, investments in education or health and risk management. Kuru argued that financial inclusivity must as a matter of fact become a major policy trust.
“But the issue from the highlight above points to the very fact that Financial Inclusion has become a priority for policy makers, regulators and development agencies globally. If we must align with the rest of the world, it must also be a priority for us as Nigerians.”Kuru urged the media and all stake holders to champion the cause of financial inclusion, saying that journalists must be well paid so that they can lead others to exit the Financial Inclusion bars.
“I think that Journalists should be among some of the highest paid professionals because of the importance of the media in nation building. In developed countries, journalists are well paid and well respected but what do we have in Nigeria – we have a situation where media houses owe salaries, which jeopardize the standards of media profession.
“So ,the society expects a lot from the Financial Journalist that is grappling with all sorts of challenges including simple things like the basic inability to receive his salary at the end of the month. That is absurd to say the least” Kuru stated.He urged Communication Managers to come up with market penetration initiatives, which will deepen Financial Inclusion and create the desired public awareness and stimulate the interest of policy makers.
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