High-Level Panel Meets to Follow up on Commitments to Tackling African Poverty t...

Feb 2007
New York , February, 01 2007 - Madagascar chosen as location for first substantive follow-up to historic United Nations Conference on Financial Inclusion in Africa held in Dakar in June 2006

The Steering Committee of the Dakar Declaration on Building Inclusive Financial Sectors in Africa will meet in Antananarivo, Madagascar on 6 February to explore tangible solutions to the challenges laid out in the 2006 Dakar Declaration on Building Inclusive Financial Sectors in Africa. The Committee is comprised of highly qualified and committed representatives from regional organizations, Governments, Central Banks, practitioners, donors, international NGOs, the private sector and academia.

The UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and UN Development Programme (UNDP) jointly organized the United Nations Conference on Financial Inclusion in Africa, in June 2006 in response to an evolving concern for a shift in development assistance from microfinance to inclusive finance - from supporting discrete microfinance institutions (MFIs) to building inclusive financial sectors.

More than half of Africa's population (approximately 300 million people) live in extreme poverty. Only about 4% of the African population has a bank account, and the number of bank deposits per person is far below other regions. In addition, only 1% of Africans has obtained a loan or other form of credit from a formal financial institution.

At the Dakar Conference, 320 delegates from 53 countries agreed through the Declaration to set up a Steering Committee to ensure the dissemination and the implementation of the Dakar recommendations and to maintain and develop the network of Governments, Central Banks, Financial Service Providers, development agencies and others created through the Conference with the intention of mobilizing financial and technical resources required to build inclusive financial sectors in Africa.

Fodé Ndiaye, UNCDF Regional Technical Manager for East and Southern Africa, said the Dakar Conference succeeded in raising the awareness of African policy makers across the continent by demonstrating the important link between financial access and poverty. "Policy makers are beginning to realize that legal, policy and regulatory environments all too frequently constrain, rather than encourage financial inclusion," he said.

Ndiaye said the Committee meeting in Antananarivo will take the awareness created at Dakar a step further by seeking to implement the recommendations that everyone agreed to in Dakar, and in so doing ensure that all Africans have access to the financial services they need to improve their livelihoods and to contribute to the economic development of the Continent. Antananarivo was chosen in part, he added, because the Government of Madagascar, supported by the UN system and other partners, is currently implementing a National Strategy for Microfinance, approved in June 2004.

Makarimi Adéchoubou, UNCDF Regional Technical Manager for West and Central Africa, said the Steering Committee will work with all stakeholders, including central and local Governments, Central Banks and other regulatory and supervisory bodies, parliaments, regional organizations, financial services providers and their networks, academia, civil societies and consumer associations, technical service providers, development agencies, the UN system, and the private sector to create common vision, develop innovative solutions, establish up and/or strengthen networks and to bring greater synergy to ongoing efforts to efficiently achieve results and impact in promoting financial inclusion in Africa.

"The Committee will seek to tackle the constraints and challenges related to macro level (policy and legal and regulatory frameworks), the meso level (financial infrastructure) and the micro level (financial service providers)", said Adechoubou. "It will have a long-term orientation and will seek to gauge and monitor progress by measuring the number of people with access to financial services among the population based on the data collected during sector assessments."

The Steering Committee has been charged with the following roles and responsibilities:

  1. Ensure that the Dakar Conference proceedings be broadly disseminated and used to inspire and guide national dialogues on building inclusive financial sectors in Africa;
  2. Collect and disseminate lessons learned and best practices on financial inclusion;
  3. Follow-up and support the measures to be taken to implement the recommendations of the Dakar Declaration;
  4. Develop and implement a communication plan and public awareness programme to ensure that the conclusions of the Dakar Conference commitment remain a top priority on the development agenda in Africa and be translated into action;
  5. Encourage and support stakeholders at national and regional levels to design and implement national or regional strategies for financial inclusion;
  6. Encourage and support governments and policy makers who seek to adopt policies to develop and strengthen financial infrastructure at regional and local levels;
  7. Coordinate efforts to promote greater access to financial services as an important part of the political agenda and in meetings and forum on development;
  8. Provide support to Governments, Central Banks and other regulatory and supervisory bodies to review regulations to improve a sound provision of financial services to poor and low-income people and to micro and small enterprises, while at the same time minimizing or removing regulatory constraints that discourage financial inclusion;
  9. Continue and strengthen efforts to ensure that the private sector (particularly private financial institutions) is actively engaged as an important partner;
  10. Create a proposal to establish a Regional Fund to support financial inclusion in Africa;
  11. Support linkages between the financial sector and the academia through research for innovations and expansion and through training by including financial inclusion in the curricula;
  12. Support and strengthen networking among the key stakeholders at national, sub-regional and regional levels; and
  13. Encourage the setting of clear and relevant indicators, the collection of data through surveys and reporting to assess progress in building inclusive financial sectors at national, sub-regional and regional levels, develop benchmarking systems and increase sound competition.


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