The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) have reached an agreement to collaborate in driving financial inclusion across the country. The discussions between the two entities highlighted the commitment of the apex bank to forge partnerships with development organizations like BMGF to explore innovative solutions for enhancing access to finance.
Folashodun Shonubi, CBN’s Acting Governor, emphasized the importance of such partnerships in addressing the challenges that hinder achieving the desired level of financial inclusion in Nigeria. Despite notable progress made in various aspects of financial inclusion, there are still hurdles to overcome to meet the targets set in Nigeria’s first financial inclusion strategy developed in 2012. The initial goal was to bring 80 percent of the population into the financial system by 2020. However, the actual financial inclusion rate reached 64.1 percent in 2020, slightly lower than the 63.2 percent recorded in 2018. The excluded adult population increased from 36.6 million in 2018 to 38.1 million in 2020, indicating that 1.5 million more adults fell into the exclusion circle during that period.
The partnership between CBN and BMGF dates back to 2012 when the foundation began supporting financial inclusion initiatives in Nigeria. The collaboration has led to significant achievements, including the development of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy in 2012, followed by a revision in 2018. Additionally, strategic initiatives like the Nigeria Financial Services Maps, which facilitates geospatial mapping of access points, have been instrumental in reaching excluded segments of the population with financial products and services.
Bill Gates, the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, expressed satisfaction with the foundation’s contributions to Nigeria’s development in areas such as health, agriculture, and financial services. He acknowledged the existence of challenges and gaps but expressed optimism about the potential for better outcomes, given the country’s new economic and monetary policies.
The partnership between CBN and BMGF promises to bring about further advancements in financial inclusion, empowering more Nigerians with access to vital financial services. As both entities continue to work together and explore innovative solutions, the goal of achieving widespread financial inclusion in Nigeria moves closer to realization.