Financial Inclusion (FI), which refers to access and usage of appropriate financial services, continues to play an integral role in the realization of inclusive and sustainable growth. It is vital for economic and social development of a country.
According to the National Financial Inclusion Strategy 2017-2022, Financial Inclusion has be defined as having access to and using a broad range of quality and affordable financial services which help ensure a person’s financial security.
An increase in access and usage of financial services has a positive impact on the soundness of the financial sector and enables the achievement of one of the Bank’s corporate strategic objective of; “Increasing External Stakeholder Confidence in BOU”.
Diversification of financial institutions’ assets resulting from lending to more individuals and firms through increased access will reduce the overall riskiness of the institutions’ loan portfolio. In this case since the relative size of any single borrower in the overall portfolio will be reduced, the portfolio volatility will be reduced as well;
Secondly increasing the number of users of financial services such as savers will increase the size and stability of deposit base. This will reduce financial institutions’ dependence on non-core financing that tends to be more volatile and costly.
Lastly increased access and usage of financial services is expected to lead to a better transmission of monetary policy; this also contributes to financial stability.
Because of the above; a strategic initiative: Review, update and implement financial inclusion programmes has been included in the Bank’s strategic plan 2017-2022
Lastly increased usage and access of financial services is expected to lead to a better transmission of monetary policy; this also contributes to financial stability.
Bank of Uganda as a principal member of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) a network of regulators involved in financial inclusion made a commitment under the Maya Declaration in 2011 to develop and implement a Strategy for Financial Inclusion based on four pillars:
Following the successful roll out of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS), the Maya Declaration was revised in September 2018 to read as: “to Increase the percentage of adult population (16 years+) formally financially included from 58 percent (FinScope survey 2018) to at least 80 percent by 2022”.
The Bank has working with various stakeholders to strengthen financial inclusion in Uganda and notable achievements include;
A roadmap of actions and agreed upon steps by the public and private sectors to achieve a set of defined financial inclusion objectives.
The Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and the Bank of Uganda in collaboration with various stakeholders developed a National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) for Uganda, with support from the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI).
The Inter Institutional Committee on Financial Inclusion (IICFI) comprising Insurance Regulatory Authority of Uganda (IRAU), Ministry of Trade, Industries & Cooperatives (MTIC), Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), Uganda Microfinance Regulatory Authority (UMRA), financial sector associations, Development Partners and Civil Society Representatives play a critical oversight role in the process of developing and implementing the NFIS. The strategy was launched on 26th October 2017.
The Bank of Uganda has been assigned the role of secretariat to coordinate the activities of implementing the strategy
The National Financial Inclusion Strategy vision is that “All Ugandans have access to and use a broad range of quality and affordable financial services which helps ensure their financial security”.
The NFIS aims at reducing exclusion, by;
The strategy is summarized into five objectives/pillars namely; Reduce Financial Exclusion and Access Barriers to Financial Services, Develop the Credit Infrastructure for Growth, Build out the Digital Infrastructure for Efficiency, Deepen and Broaden Formal Savings, Investment and Insurance Usage and Empower & Protect Individuals with Enhanced Financial Capability.
For each of the objectives, a number of initiatives will be implemented to close the identified gaps.
The process of implementing the initiatives by the various stakeholders has commenced; the Bank of Uganda coordinates the implementation activities and tracks and reports on progress made.
Each objective has been assigned to a working group, which will be responsible for implementing the various initiatives. To guide the implementation of the strategy, a governance structure and monitoring framework have been put in place.