The Bank of Tanzania and the World Bank Group (WBG) hosted a high-level stakeholder panel on the 18th of February to discuss the findings of two recent keynote World Bank studies on financial inclusion, namely the Independent Evaluation Group’s (IEG) report on the WBG’s support to financial inclusion initiatives and the Global Findex 2014 report.
The Global Findex is the world’s most comprehensive database on financial inclusion. It provides in-depth data on how individuals save, borrow, make payments, and manage risks.
The second report, prepared by the IEG – the body in charge of evaluating the activities of the WBG and their outcomes – examines, at a global level, the relevance and effectiveness of seven years (FY07–13) of WBG support to financial inclusion and its impact on the poor.
Speaking at the event, Prof. Benno Ndulu, the Governor, Bank of Tanzania reiterated the central bank’s commitment to further expanding financial inclusion in the country.
“Tanzania has made significant progress in expanding financial inclusion through the use of mobile services. Today, 40 percent of adults in Tanzania have an account – up from 17 percent in 2011 according to the Global Findex,” said Prof. Ndulu. He also reiterated that “in spite of the fact that interoperability has commenced amongst mobile network operators, we still have to ensure that it becomes broad to be applicable to banks and other service providers, so as to enable the infrastructure to be optimally used for financial services to enhance convenience, competition and plotting out new tools and products for consumers.”
Bella Bird, World Bank Country Director for Tanzania urged industry stakeholders to scale up their services to further expand financial access, particularly among low-income segments of the population, as well as for micro, small and medium enterprises.
“Despite the progress that has been made, we must do more to ensure every adult in Tanzania has access to affordable financial services,” said Bird. “One way to rapidly expand financial inclusion is to digitize payments for social transfers. There are large opportunities in digitizing payments especially for the sale of agricultural products but also when it comes to wage or government transfer payments.”
Ms. Bird also stressed the importance of raising financial literacy and enhancing consumer protection through, for example, building capacity among Savings and Credit Cooperative Organizations (SACCOS) and strengthening regulatory oversight.
“Achieving the goal of universal financial access will require governments, development partners, the private sector and other stakeholders to bring costs down by, for example, using technology more innovatively,” said Marvin Taylor-Dormond, Director, Financial, Private Sector & Sustainable Development at the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group.