Nigeria, on 24th and 25th November 2022 hosted the largest convening of the global Financial Inclusion ecosystem since the launch of its National Financial Inclusion Strategy in 2012. The 2022 International Financial Inclusion Conference organized by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and its partners within the financial inclusion governance committees themed: “Financial Inclusion for all: Scaling Innovative Digital Models” had in attendance over 5000 participants from at least 78 countries around the world.
Among the major dignitaries in attendance were His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR), who was represented by the Honorable Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Mohammad Musa Bello (CON); United Nations Secretary-General Special Advocate (UNSGSA) on Inclusive Finance, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha; the Honorable Minister for Communication and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Pantami; the Honorable Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen; the Honorable Minister for Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed; the Governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, and Dr Kayode Fayemi, former Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum and former Governor of Ekiti State.
Also in attendance were financial sector regulators such as the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mr. Femi Lijadu; Managing Director of the NDIC, Mr Hassan Bello; the Commissioner of NAICOM, Mr Sunday Thomas; Board Members of the Central Bank of Nigeria, and the Chief Executive Officer of Brittania-U Nigeria Limited, Mr. Uju Ifejika, amongst others.
During the conference, attendees witnessed the launch of 7 key policies and products that would enable the achievement of 95% Financial Inclusion in Nigeria by 2024 such as the revised National Financial Inclusion Strategy (3.0), the Strategy for Leveraging Agent Networks for Women’s Financial Inclusion, the National Fintech Strategy, the Payment System Vision (PSV) 2025, the Nigeria Financial Services Maps, the CBN Regulatory Sandbox and a Fintech Bridge between the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Central Bank of Egypt.
Giving a keynote address during the conference, the Governor Central Bank of Nigeria – Mr. Godwin Emefiele who chairs the National Financial Inclusion Steering Committee pointed to CBN’s long-standing effort to achieve the financial inclusion targets through creating enabling environments and providing supports. He said, “From 2012 to date, over 59 policies and initiatives have been implemented by stakeholders to achieve the objectives of financial inclusion. These policies and initiatives cut across the banking sector, the insurance sector, the capital market sector and the institutions responsible for infrastructural development for financial inclusion in Nigeria. We have prioritized financial inclusion through our invention for over four million smallholder farmers and SMEs creating over two million jobs. By the end of 2024, we aim to be at 95% rate of financial inclusion in Nigeria”.
The Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability, CBN, Mrs. Aishah N. Ahmad, CFA in her welcome remarks highlighted that the conference was holding at a critical time in Nigeria’s Financial Inclusion journey. “Nigeria is indeed at an important tipping point for financial inclusion. At no time has there been a prevalence of an enabling regulatory environment, proliferation of digital technology, innovation and collaborative platforms between the public and private sector – all strategic levers required to scale financial inclusion in Nigeria”. In her engaging plenary session, she also stressed the role of policymaking in advancing Financial Inclusion in Nigeria.
In a special keynote address by the United Nations Secretary-General Special Advocate (UNSGSA) on Inclusive Finance – Her Majesty Queen Maxima of the Netherlands highlighted the role to be played by the new National Financial Inclusion Strategy in providing a genuine chance for improving livelihoods, such as strategies leveraging the National Insurance Number, Bank Verification Number amongst other policies
The conference featured nine plenary sessions including Scaling Digital Models for the Last Mile, Catalyzing Global Partnerships for Financial Inclusion, Country Experiences, Expert Dialogue on Women’s Financial Inclusion, Fostering Partnerships for Inclusive growth amongst others. Four breakout sessions focused on Digital Infrastructure, Data Privacy & Consumer Protection, Deepening Digital Financial Services and Strategies for reaching Youth & Rural Areas. Speakers cut across global policy makers and business leaders including Dr Alfred Hannig, Executive Director AFI, Ambassador Chad Blackman, Special Adviser to the DG ILO, Mrs Elsie Addo- Awadzi, Deputy Governor, Bank of Ghana, Mr Folashodun Shonubi, Deputy Governor Operations, CBN, Mr Herbert Wigwe, Managing Director, Access Corporation and Professor Olayinka David-West of Lagos Business School, etc
The IFIC 2022 conference agenda included the first Financial Inclusion Awards Dinner-themed ‘Celebrating Champions of Inclusion’. Nine (9) deserving institutions and one individual were recognized for their contributions to advancing financial inclusion in Nigeria through a rigorous nomination and selection process superintended by Price WaterHouse Coopers (PWC). The winners included Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (EFINA) who won the Financial Inclusion Innovation Award and Access Bank and Jaiz Bank who won the national women’s financial inclusion award and the inclusive bank of the year award respectively. TeamApt, Remita, Interswitch, E transact, Lapo MFB and Ms Modupe Ladipo also took away awards.
The conference also showcased 20 fintech and start up companies at its Innovation Labs exhibition focusing on various solutions targeted at facilitating payments, digitizing informal financial services platforms and bridging the financial inclusion gap.