From Uche Usim, Abuja
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has flagged off a scheme aimed at empowering and bringing more women and youth across Nigeria into the finance ecosystem, in line with its digital financial inclusion project.
To this end, the bank and its stakeholders are billed to engage target groups in selected states in order to facilitate their economic empowerment and inclusion.
A statement from the CBN noted that the programme also aims at implementing the bank’s framework for advancing women’s financial inclusion in Nigeria and improving access to financial products and services amongst vulnerable segments of the Nigerian society.
The digital financial inclusion drive scheduled to commence from Gombe State, on Monday, November 1st through to Friday, November 5th, 2021, is the first of six engagements expected to cut across states with high numbers of financially excluded women and youth.
The statement identified Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Jigawa, Niger and Oyo as the other States with high populations of vulnerable financially excluded women and youths, adding that those who fall into these groups are expected to benefit from the drive throughout the rest of the year.
According to the CBN, the drive is expected to, among other things, improve financial literacy and build awareness on the benefits of the use of digital financial services and contribute to increased access to Payments, Savings and credit enhancement opportunities for rural women and youth across the country leveraging digital platforms.
Similarly, it is expected to promote the uptake of other financial products and services amongst women and youth including insurance, pension and capital market products through agents.
The DFI drive for women and youth in Gombe State will hold across Biliri, Kaltungo, Akko, Yemaltu Deba and Dukku Local Government Areas and specifically create awareness on the Central Bank Digital Currency and its benefits, credit enhancement schemes of the Government and other financial products and services.
The target for the drive is to reach at least 25,000 women and youth across the State.
Meanwhile, a recent report published by McKinsey Global Institute highlighted the critical importance of women’s financial inclusion to global GDP growth and notes that if countries in Africa can focus on closing gender gaps in their respective jurisdictions, the continent could add $316 billion or 10 percent to GDP in the period to 2025.
Nigeria currently has a National Financial Inclusion rate of 64.9%, and a financial inclusion gender gap of 8% and proposes to achieve 93% overall financial inclusion and close the gender gap in access to finance by 2024. According to the 2020 A2F survey by Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access in Nigeria (EFInA), only 26% of adult women and 27% of youths in Gombe State have access to one form of financial product or service.
In addition to reducing the high statistics on women’s exclusion, the CBN’s digital financial drive is also expected to help curb restiveness amongst the youth population by exposing them to economically viable ways of improving their livelihoods and ensure that they understand the need for safety of their funds protected within formal financial institutions.