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By Charles Abuede
In a bid to accelerate the achievement of the national financial inclusion target of 80 per cent by December 2020, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said that a total of 96.3 million out of 99.6 million Nigerians do not have access to/use mobile money services despite the teledensity rate of 97.4 per cent in the country.
The CBN, in a newsletter, tagged “1st quarter Financial Inclusion Newsletter” released on its website on Thursday, indicated that the bank’s drive towards deepening financial inclusion using available financial literacy and inclusion tools are aimed at including the vulnerable segments such as the women, youth, rural areas, northern region of the country as well as micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) across the nation.
According to the publication, NIPOST is now fully involved in the Conditional Cash Transfer programme of the Federal Government through engaging and partnering with Western Union to use NIPOST outlets across the country for money transfers. They have commenced BVN registration in 50 locations, with over 50 BVN machines received from the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS).
The apex bank further revealed in the newsletter that on its Shared Agent Network Expansion Facility (SANEF) initiative, there has been an increased in the number of agents by 220% from 83,560 in December 2018 to 267,627 as at 29 February 2020, further stating that the 2020 roll out plan was expected to bring additional 232,373 agents to close out the year with 500,000 agents.
The Central Bank chief, Godwin Emefiele, while appraising the effects brought about by the pandemic on plans to establish the right structures to sustain the momentum of using alternative digital channels to engage members and advance collaboration on financial inclusion said:
“Although these developments are troubling, they present a clear opportunity to re-echo a persistent message the CBN has been sending for a long time, and at this time even more urgently so: we must look inwards as a nation and guarantee food security, high quality and affordable healthcare, and cutting-edge education for our people… Therefore, as a nation, we cannot afford to continue relying on the world for our food, education and healthcare. The time has come to fully transform Nigeria into a modern, sophisticated and inclusive economy that is self-sufficient, rewards the hardworking, but protects the poor and vulnerable, and can compete internationally across a range of strategic sectors.”
Speaking on the identified strategies to accelerating the achievement of the national financial inclusion target of 80% by December 2020, the apex bank’s report identified:
“Digital financial services provide low-income households with access to affordable and convenient tools that can help increase their economic opportunities. For extremely poor families, combining digital financial services with livelihood promotion, safety nets, and mentoring boost their long-term standard of living. Furthermore, mobile money providers across Africa have reduced or waived transaction fees and governments are encouraging digital payments to reduce the risks associated with the physical handling of cash and potentially reduce the spread of the virus,” the report said.