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REPORT: Why financial exclusion is high in the North



Why financial exclusion is high in the North
  • Survey reveals how financial exclusion can be tackled

In a bid to reduce poverty and achieve inclusive economic growth in Nigeria, Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA), a financial sector development organization hosted a workshop with stakeholders such as the Federal Government, United Nations (UN).

Others include Heads of Federal Financial Inclusion Initiatives, Academics, Financial Institutions and Financial Services Regulators in Nigeria to advocate for the implementation of policies to drive financial inclusion in Nigeria.

The theme of the workshop was ‘’The Role of Government in Driving Financial Inclusion in Nigeria’’, where it was also revealed why parts of Nigeria, especially the North, has high level of financial exclusion.

Ms. Modupe Ladipo, the chair of EFInA’s Board, shared key barriers responsible for increasing the financially excluded population in Nigeria.

She indicated that:

  • Generally, income levels in Nigeria are very low.
  • 19.6% of Nigerians mainly get their source of income from non-farming business while 19.1% get theirs from family business (subsistence or commercial farming).
  • Only 4.2% of the adult population get their source of income from the formal sector.
  • In addition, she commented that EFInA observed that the North has a high level of financial exclusion: This is as a result of massive job losses, limited resources and no basic necessities of opening a bank account.
  • Out of 96.4 million adults in Nigeria, 56.3 million (58.4% of the adult population) are now financially served.
  • 40.1 million Nigerian adults (41.6% of the adult population) are financially excluded (without any form of access to financial services).
  • The National Financial Inclusion Strategy target is to lower this figure to 20.0% of the adult population by 2020’’.

She highlighted the issue of inaccurate data in assessing economic growth in Nigeria. ‘‘There are lots of issues in terms of validation and credibility.

According to National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), only 6% of Nigerians are duly registered as at 2016.

  • Only 24% of the population has a Bank Verification Number (BVN). We really need to devise how to get a unique form of identification so that we can start to address some of these issues.

She emphasized that the number of microfinance adult users declined from 2.6 million in 2014 to 1.8 million in 2016.

There is a general problem around trust as the licenses of some microfinance banks have been revoked. With a lot of bank charges, account owners are left with little money in their bank account.

Currently, Nigeria has:

  • 58.2 million unique mobile phone users, the contrast to 27 million using mobile banking.

This underscores the immense potential which mobile banking shows for advancing financial inclusion.

The Chairman Senate Committee on Banking and Financial Institutions, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, shared insights on “The Role of Government in Ensuring Financial Institutions Address the Needs of Masses”.

Senator Ibrahim highlighted Federal Government initiatives aimed at promoting economic stability and deepening financial inclusion in Nigeria. He stated that the Government would support mobile banking efforts, and lay the framework to permit mobile network operators to deepen its penetration.

(L-r): Chairman Senate Committee on Banking & Financial Institutions, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, Chair; EFInA’s Board, Ms. Modupe Ladipo; Senior Economic Advisor, Open Society Foundations (OSF), Dr. Obiageli ‘Oby’ Ezekwesili; United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Financial Inclusion for Development, Her Majesty Queen Maxima of the Netherlands; Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi Lamido at the EFInA Financial Inclusion Workshop in Abuja.

The Governor of Central Bank, Mr. Godwin Emiefiele (CON), in his address delivered by Director, Development Financing, CBN, Mr. Mudashiru Olaitan, explained that initiatives like the Bank Verification Number scheme and others have addressed issues connected to identification in the banking system. ‘‘As we progress in our financial inclusion effort, the need to develop the competences of relevant institutions must be pursued.

Some of the issues we need to address include low infrastructure in rural areas, low income, low saving culture, high unemployment and cultural & religious barriers.

Government has a critical role to play in order to promote inclusive financial execution. Government needs to provide an enabling environment to support the entire value chain within the financial sector to achieve its objectives.