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Mobile Tech Tap to Drive Africa’s Financial Inclusion

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New research urges African governments to work collaboratively with all role-players to introduce strong mobile tech-driven financial innovations in support of national development priorities and the social development goals (SDGs).

The study, “Digital finance platforms to empower all”, released last week by Vodafone Group, Vodacom Group, Safaricom and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), says this is how countries can accelerate progress and increase the impact of financial inclusion.

“The impact is potentially staggering, with the International Finance Corporation estimating digital finance has the potential to boost annual GDP of emerging economies by $3.7 trillion by 2025,” the report reads.

The analysis was conducted as part of the three telcos’ Africa Connected campaign, an initiative to drive sustainable development through collaboration and help close the divides that prevent progress in Africa’s key economic sectors.

The research, which examined 49 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, found that countries with successful mobile money services had an annual GDP per capita growth rate up to one percentage point higher than countries where mobile money platforms had not been successful or not introduced.

It says: “As post-pandemic economic recovery continues, with the cost of living and climate crises intensifying, governments are encouraged to leverage mobile financial services to strengthen financial inclusion, which increases economic resilience and furthers sustainable development.

“When managed correctly, mobile financial services can not only drive financial inclusion, poverty reduction and economic growth, but can also accelerate progress around the SDGs more broadly.”

According to the study, collaboration and strong partnerships underpin this success and will drive future acceleration of progress.

As such, it says, governments and multilateral organisations should engage all stakeholders, including the UNDP, the Africa Connected campaign, and other telecommunications, fintech and finance businesses, to make the recommendations discussed in this report a reality.

“In doing so, Africa can continue to equitably expand access to mobile financial services, with all stakeholders working together to ensure these services are delivered in a responsible way that unleashes their full potential on SDG achievement to uplift and empower all citizens.”

Principals of the report call upon African governments to urgently create an enabling legal and regulatory environment.

They say policy-makers must create an open and level playing field where financial regulators allow both traditional banks and non-traditional financial service providers to operate.

This, they say, will allow digital finance innovation to flourish through greater interoperability and openness of payment rails.

Aiaze Mitha, global lead, digital finance for the SDGs, at UNDP, says technology transformed financial access for Africans.

In the last decade, he says, more of the population has gained access to basic financial services, with the figure increasing from 23% of the population in 2011 to around 55% in 2021.

“A lot of that has been unlocked through mobile financial services, simply because more people have access to a connected mobile device.

“These services are complemented by a physical network of agents, who allow people to convert cash into digital currency so that they can start stepping into the formal financial system and start building up a credit history that will enable them to qualify for more sophisticated financial services.”

Looking ahead, Mitha notes there are a few obstacles Africa still needs to address around financial inclusion.

“First, there’s access to affordable mobile financial services, which includes such things as digital connectivity, devices and cost of broadband access. I’d say digital identity is also an issue.

“Being able to identify yourself so that you can access financial services is a major obstacle because there is a lack of digital identification in many countries across the continent.

“Fortunately, there are several players coming together to ensure digitalisation does not widen the digital and financial divide. In that sense, building capacity around financial and digital literacy will be a key element of greater, more qualitative financial inclusion.

“Finally, the notion of embedded finance must be raised. Many people will use financial services for a purpose, to fulfil a specific need, not just for the sake of it. For example, financial services are being built into specific e-commerce, transport, mobility, or social experiences and use cases.

“This will most likely open new avenues for even greater inclusion once people have the tools and connectivity to engage with these use cases.”

 


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E-Financial

FG Recovers N57Bn Debt from 10 MDAs

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Federal government has announced the recovery of N57 billion from the N5.2 trillion liaibilities owed the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and other bodies by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government

FG Recovers N57Bn Debt from 10 MDAs

Okokon Ekanem Udo, permanent secretary, Special Duties, Federal Ministry of Finance made the disclosure on Tuesday in Enugu State during a Sensitisation Workshop on Federal Government Debt Recovery Drive through Project Lighthouse Programme for South-East geo-political zone.

While declaring the event open, Ekanem stated that the debts came to the spotlight from data aggregated from over 5,000+ debtors across more than 93 MDAs.

This was according to a statement by Mohammed Manga, spokesman for the ministry.

Represented by Aisha Omar, the ministry’s director, Special Projects, Ekanem Udo, informed that it also received refunds to the government from companies who failed to deliver on projects for which payment had been made, adding that others are unpaid credit facilities granted to both corporate entities and individuals by the Bank of Industry (BOI), Bank of Agriculture (BOA), Judgment Debt in favor of Government and debts owed Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) by Insurance Companies amongst others.

He added that data from Project Lighthouse revealed that many companies and individuals, who owe government agencies and refused to honour their obligations were still being paid.

This, he said, was done through government platforms such as GIFMIS and Treasury Single Account (TSA) due to lack of visibility over these transactions.

According to him, in actualising debt recovery goal, the Federal Ministry of Finance initiated Project Lighthouse, which has enabled the aggregation of relevant economic and financial information from multiple agencies who hitherto did not share data.

Ekanem Udo explained that, generally, revenue loopholes have been aided by poor information sharing and enforcement.

It may interest you to note that the Ministry, through the consolidation efforts of the Debt Analytics and Reporting Application, has been able to aggregate monumental debts of approximately N5.2 trillion, he said.

The Permanent Secretary who informed further that the debt aggregation effort is still ongoing stated that currently, approximately N57 billion has been recovered so far from this amount due to concerted efforts on the part of stakeholders and the Federal Government

He disclosed that the Ministry has taken steps to address this major revenue loophole, through the issuance of a Ministerial directive to all MDAs to aggregate all Government debt across the Public Finance Space as well as having a single window on the credit profile of Government.

 

 

 

 


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Access Pensions Reaffirms Commitment Towards PBMs for Nigerians

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Access Pensions has emphasized its commitment to offering thorough guidance and assistance to customers interested in Pension Backed Mortgages (PBMs).

Head of Customer Experience at Access Pensions, Ophelia Alex-Iwuanyanwu, reiterated this commitment during a recent webinar organised by the company.

She also highlighted the Access advantage, showcasing the robust financial ecosystem provided by Access Corporation and how the firm is committed to ensuring the best for its customers.

Additionally, Chief Investment Officer, Access Pensions, Wale Okunrinboye, Regional Head, Business Development, Adaeze Raji and Head of Benefits Administration, Access Pensions, Zainab Bello, provided valuable insights to webinar attendees, offering tips to enhance pension planning security and manage personal finances effectively.

They reiterated the company’s commitment to delivering top-notch relationship management services. Alex-Iwuanyanwu said, “We offer competitive pension backed mortgage finance tailored to your needs, ensuring your goal of home ownership is achieved.

“We also guide our customers through every step of the homeownership journey, starting well before the application reaches us. We offer end-to-end guidance from our team to ensure a simplified process that reduces the turnaround time, from initiation to PENCOM’s approval.”

She further added that clients benefit from dedicated relationship managers, access to digital channels, financial literacy programs and superior investment returns. Additionally, efficient benefits administration ensures timely pension payouts globally.

Also, Okunrinboye, speaking on “Investment Management: How do we manage your pensions” said: “Our investment process is built around applying an analytical approach to securities analysis, asset allocation, optimal trade execution and a quantitative approach to risk management.”

Furthermore, Raji discussed the essential steps to achieve retirement goals, emphasising the importance of setting clear income targets and developing a comprehensive plan to achieve them. She noted that this involves identifying income sources, assessing expenses, establishing a savings strategy, and effectively managing assets and risks.

Bello delved into the specifics of pension benefits. She outlined the eligibility criteria for accessing retirement benefits, which include various circumstances such as mandatory or compulsory retirement, retirement due to medical reasons, or temporary loss of employment.

Additionally, she highlighted the factors that determine the amount payable to retirees, including gender, the total balance in the retirement savings account (RSA), final salary details, and the age at which retirement occurs.

The webinar, hosted by Head of Brand and Communications, Mojisola Coker, provided an enlightening platform for customers to engage in a question-and-answer session, fostering valuable insights.

 


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Former SEC Leadership Failed to Regulate, Develop Capital Market- ASCSN

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Senior Staff Union under the aegis of Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has accused the past administration of the Commission led by Dr. Lamido Yuguda of failing in its mandate of effectively regulating and developing the capital market, which is an intricate part of the nation’s economy.

Former SEC Leadership Failed to Regulate, Develop Capital Market- ASCSN

ASCSN also urged the federal government to exempt workers of the commission from 50 percent operating surplus remittance

Abba Mamman Ali, chairman of the Union, stated this on Monday during a briefing with journalists in Abuja.

Recall that President Bola Tinubu had last Friday sacked Dr. Lamido Yuguda, former director general and announced a new management and board for the Commission.

While Mr. Mairiga Aliyu Katuka is the chairman of the new board, Dr. Emomotimi Agama is the new director-general.

Abba said the administration of the Yuguda “failed in its mandate to effectively regulate and develop the capital market, which is an intricate part of the Nigerian economy.”

Furthermore, he said the Yuguda-led Management “was insensitive and unresponsive towards issues of staff welfare especially issues bordering on staff promotion, gratuity and increase of staff emolument, amongst many others.”

He said, “Unfortunately, staff morale was at the lowest ebb under the regime of the immediate past Management.

‘It became clear to the SEC Staff Union and our parent body, the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) that a vibrant capital market and a highly motivated SEC workforce could only be achieved through a change of SEC Management by Mr President.

“This prompted the Union to cry out to His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. By clearing out the ineffective SEC Management led by Lamido Yuguda, His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has lived up to his sterling reputation as a listening President.”

He said the SEC Staff Union has pledged to collaborate seamlessly with the new board under the leadership of board chairman, Mr. Mairiga Aliyu Katuka and Director General, Dr. Emomotimi Agama, to deliver a vibrant capital market in line with President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda.

However, to achieve this, he called for the commission to be exempted from the 50 per cent deductions on operating surplus as contained in the Finance Act 2024 because the Commission is a development institution.

He said, “We want this management to look into issues of staff promotion, vacancies and gratuity. We urge them to look at it very well and settle those issues as they concern staff directly.

“Also, there is need for Management to meet with the government on the issue of 50 per cent deductions on operating surplus. These deductions have almost incapacitated the Commission as the SEC has been having great difficulties carrying out its dual functions of regulating and developing the capital market.”

On the capital market, he said the Union is “urging the new management to constitute a market wide committee who will proffer solutions to the various issues currently bedevilling the market.”


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