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CMI Workshop Emphasizes need for Financially Inclusive Ecosystem to Enhance the COMESA Integration Agenda

COMESA Monetary Institute (CMI) in collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Alliance Forum Foundation (Japan), held a workshop on “Enhancing Financial Inclusion in COMESA Region -through Enhancement of the Regulatory and Supervisory Framework”, from 24th February to 1st March, 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya. This was  a follow up to the Microfinance Training Course for Policy and Development held in December, 2014 in Lusaka Zambia. The workshop followed a directive to CMI by the 21st Meeting of the COMESA Committee of Governors of Central Banks held in Lusaka, Zambia in November 2015, to organize a workshop to develop a model strategy for enhancing financial inclusion in  the COMESA Region. The workshop was attended by participants from the following COMESA member countries: Burundi, Union of the Comoros, Djibouti, DR Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Rwanda, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The overall objective of the workshop was to propose innovative regulatory and supervision framework  for enhancing financial inclusion in the COMESA region.

The workshop was officially opened by Dr. Patrick Njoroge, Governor, Central Bank of Kenya. In his statement Dr. Njoroge stated that Kenya Vision 2030 emphasises the critical importance of diverse range of  financial products to the unbanked in Kenya. He said that the role of central Bank of Kenya in this regard is centered on the promotion of an enabling legal and regulatory framework that fosters the development of a diverse range of financial service providers while guaranteeing its dual mandate of financial stability and financial integrity. He added that while commendable achievements have been made in Kenya, in the past six years the microfinance sector is faced with key challenges, which include among others high cost of credit, inadequate products and services and weak consumer protection framework. He emphasized that the development of proportionate, risk based, regulations by policy makers is critical to guaranteeing the development of a dynamic, robust and sustainable microfinance framework for a country.

Mr. Ibrahim Zeidy the Director, COMESA Monetary Institute (CMI)  also made a statement on behalf of the COMESA Secretary General Mr. Sindiso Ngwenya. In his statement  he said that COMESA’s integration agenda requires enhanced private sector development. This requires ensuring sufficient access to finance by Micro, Small and Medium enterprises. In this regard, he emphasised  the importance of preparation of a Model Regional Financial Inclusion Strategy which is aimed at providing a blue print  for enhancing financial inclusion in the region.

Mr. George Hara, Chairman of Board, Alliance Forum Foundation and Special Advisor to the Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister of Japan delivered a key note speech..  In his speech he underscored the importance of Public Interest Capitalism. This he said    is key to create thick layer of middle class. He  stated that such a system will  enables company’s to serve the interest of all stakeholders, namely customers, employees, executives and business partners, through  products,  services, and employment etc. He emphasized the importance of inclusive finance to create thick layer of well educated  middle class..

Mr. Tadashi Yokoyama and Mr. Julius Karuga of the African Development Bank Group also made  statements. In their statements they emphasised that securing access to finance are the most important agenda for the achievement African Development Bank Group’s 10 year Comprehensive Strategy. This strategy is to fufill its mission of light up and power Africa, Feed Africa, Integrate Africa, Industrialise Africa and Improve Quality of Life of people in Africa.

The workshop produced a regulatory and supervision frame work which balances financial inclusion and financial stability and also recommended  the  preparation of Model Strategy for Financial inclusion in COMESA Region from 2017-2022, which details performance benchmarks for financial inclusion; a wider basket of products and services for financially excluded and possible delivery channels of the identified services.

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