World Bank, others to boost financial literacy in Nigeria


By Nike Popoola Monday, 30 Aug 2010     


Efforts to address the challenges of financial illiteracy at the grass roots through policy frameworks will receive a major boost on Tuesday as international and indigenous experts will unveil a major collaborative initiative to drastically enhance financial literacy across a broad spectrum of the Nigerian informal sector.


The nationwide credit awareness campaign is being championed by Credit Awareness Nigeria; a non-profit organisation set up by a frontline financial advisory firm, SIAO Professional Services, and is expected to increase the current level of financial literacy and financial inclusion in the country.


According to a statement made available to our correspondent on Saturday, the campaign is being supported by the Central Bank of Nigeria, the World Bank, National Poverty Eradication Programme, German Technical Corporation, Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access and Accion Microfinance Bank, among others.


Described as an innovative and pragmatic approach in tackling the pervasive problem of lack of banking amongst the populace nationwide, the campaign, which will kick off in Lagos with a state conference to be declared open on Tuesday by the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, will be attended by agencies and regulatory institutions and operators in the financial services sector, informal sector, trade unions and organisations.


Unveiling the biggest ever private sector initiative aimed at millions of un-banked Nigerians in the financial system last week in Lagos, the Project Director, Credit Awareness, Mrs. Yetunde Bassey, said, ”There are a lot of risks associated with this lack of access to financial services among Nigerians. These are some of the things Credit Awareness will like to address as we go along. And we want to begin with the campaign that is targeted at the underserved, that is, the traders, the market women, various associations, okada riders and so on.


”Those are the people we are looking at and it would amaze you that we found out that the traders among them, according to 2008 statistics, were able to generate about $23bn of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product. Substantial part of this is not even in the banks. So, what we are trying to do is to ensure that all this money goes into the economy and when that happens, the economy will automatically improve.”


Speaking in a similar tone, the Executive Director of Credit Awareness, Mr. Ladi Smith, explained that the organisation ”is about building financial inclusion and financial literacy.”He said, ”Financial inclusion, as we all know, is lacking because you find out that 79 per cent of Nigerians are excluded from credit and financial services, that is, they do not have access to loans and financial services.


”If you consider that 79 per cent of Nigerian population is quite big and what we are trying to do in Credit Awareness is to try and reduce this percentage within Nigeria and also build financial literacy. Financial literacy we want to address in many ways during this campaign and we are going to be using all channels of communication to address this literacy challenge.”


Smith added, ”We are starting this campaign in Lagos State and it is going to go across all the 774 local governments of the nation and we are expecting that we are going to delineate all these local governments into zones. For instance, in Lagos State where we are commencing the campaign, we are going delineate the local governments into six zones.


”At the state forum, we are including a very large audience that includes the entire financial services sector and local government chairmen, who are key stakeholders and on whose platform that we are going to drive the campaign across the states.”He explained further that the regulatory bodies as well as key partners like CBN and other developmental agencies would attend the forum.


Also listed among the expected partners is the Working Group for Credit Awareness that comprises the World Bank, EfinA, Developmental Initiative and seven other developmental organisations.The Director, Business Development, Bates Cosse, the consultants for the programme, Mr. Onuora Molokwu, said that the nationwide campaign would involve the use of all channels of communications, including film shows, billboards, radio jingles and other below-the-line channels like town hall meetings to ensure that the campaign resonated well among the underserved and impact positively on their financial capacity to access credit and manage it efficiently.





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