Using technology for inclusion of women and youth. That is the main theme for the Alliance for Financial Inclusion 2019 Global Policy Forum, that is being held in Rwanda, at the Kigali Convention Centre.
The two day conference is hosted jointly by the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI), and the Central Bank of Rwanda (BNR). It will be the world’s largest financial inclusion forum. More than 800 delegates, including policy makers, regulatory institutions and development partners from across the world are expected over the two days.
The Alliance for Financial Inclusion was formed in 2008, and is a global network of policy makers with a commitment to financial inclusion. It is fully owned by its membership, which includes regulatory financial institutions, including central banks, from more than eighty emerging and developing countries. Their mission is to work with policy makers to increase financial inclusion to the most excluded sectors of society, especially women, and the youth.
More than 50% of the world’s financially excluded, roughly one billion people, are women. Members of the AFI are setting specific targets to close the gender gap, collecting sex-disaggregated data to better understand the extent of exclusion, and how to address it.
After closed session meetings with AFI membership, which will include the Annual General Meeting, the forum will be open to media and the public. The main focus of discussions will be how to use technology for great financial inclusion for the most excluded groups. At the end of the two days, the Kigali Statement, to halve the financial inclusion gender gap by 2021, will be tabled, and is expected to be agreed.
Already a leader in gender equality, second only to the Scandinavian countries, Rwanda was one of the first countries to join the AFI, in 2008, before the organisation was officially launched. The choice of the country for the Global Policy Forum (GPF) is recognition of this leadership position.
“Hailed for its gender equality policies and equal participation of women in all spheres of life” reads an AFI statement, “the 2019 GPF aims to showcase the experience of Rwanda, and highlight how the use of technology will bring progress in financial inclusion of the most vulnerable groups, especially women and youth.”
Rwanda Central Bank Governor, John Rwangombwa who will be leading the session on Rwanda’s experience, explained that while there was much left to do in financial inclusion, Rwanda was moving to the next level, looking at not only increasing financial inclusion, but, also the quality of that inclusion. In 2012, the global financial inclusion gender gap was 9%, as it is currently. Rwanda’s gender gap on the other hand was 14%, but, that has come down to 11%, and it is expected to come down even further.
“We are focusing on data, monitoring and evaluating what we are doing. We are moving to another level. When we talk of inclusion, we are talking about the quality of inclusion, it’s not just about banking, and withdrawing money. Today when you transfer money on the digital channels, you could say that you are financially included, because you can use these channels, but in actual fact it just reduces the time to transfer money, but, it does make a big change. So how do we improve areas like insurance, and access the microfinance institutions…In that we are learning from our partners.”
And it is to Rwanda that GPF logo turned, with Agaseke, which AFI describes as “a symbol of Rwanda’s cultural heritage that is used by women to hold treasure. It signifies unity and the coming together of families…The 2019 AFI forum embodies the spirit of and virtues the Agaseke, by promoting and celebrating unity through collaboration among diverse stakeholder groups in achieving financial inclusion…”
Also in the spirit of Agaseke, AFI is displaying baskets from various parts of the world, from Columbia, to Sudan, Burkina Faso, Nicaragua to Togo.