Aspirations for Financial Inclusion in Africa
Globally Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) remains the region with the largest portion of people excluded from formal financial services. Only 12 percent of adults have a bank account, and the situation is most dire in rural areas where the large majority of the 863 million people in Africa live.
CGAP and the Microfinance Information Exchange (MIX) released the 2011 regional snapshot of microfinance analysis and key trends in Sub Saharan Africa. For the first time, broad, comprehensive landscape data is available of close to 23,000 providers of deposit, credit or mobile banking services. In comparison to other regions, SSA has a strong depositor base–almost a quarter of the global depositors recorded by MIX are in SSA, while the region only accounts for five percent of the borrowers. With a large focus on deposit mobilization, MFIs in SSA require a small percentage of external debt. Financial expense ratios are around 2 percent, the lowest globally after the Middle East and North Africa. Large microfinance providers have the lion’s share of client outreach across SSA (between 80 and 90 percent of borrowers and depositors), but they are experiencing slower growth rates compared to smaller institutions.
The presentation produced by MIX and CGAP contains much more information on microfinance in the 45 countries of SSA. But we wanted to dig behind the numbers and also look ahead to what 2012 might bring. To do this, we had a conversation with a group of funders that are part of the Access to Finance working group of the Partnership for Making Finance Work for Africa to discuss key issues for the region. These are not resolutions, nor are they predictions. They are quite simply, four aspirations for the advancement of financial inclusion across the heterogeneous, exciting, and complex continent of Africa. Over the course of 2012, we hope that…