CBN, Bill Gates reach deal to deepen financial inclusion

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) have decided to work together to improve Nigeria’s financial inclusion.

CBN acting governor Folashodun Shonubi, addressing at a meeting on June 22, 2023, emphasized the CBN’s commitment to working with the BMGF and other development partners to explore new solutions for increasing access to credit.

Mr. Shonubi, who was accompanied by Aishah Ahmad, the CBN’s deputy governor for financial system stability (FSS), stated that while great progress had been made in different elements of financial inclusion, some problems remained in achieving the desired degree of financial inclusion in Nigeria. As a result, he advocated for stronger collaboration between the bank and the BMGF.

Mr. Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, underlined the foundation’s main areas for sustained engagement in Nigeria, which include health, agriculture, and financial services, in his remarks.

Gates expressed delight that his organization’s support was catalysing development activities in Nigeria. While acknowledging that there were still issues and gaps, he expressed optimism that the country’s outcomes will improve as a result of the new economic and monetary policies in place in Nigeria.

Since 2012, the BMGF has been a strategic partner of the CBN in fostering innovation to reach out to excluded groups of Nigeria’s population with financial goods and services. The collaboration has resulted in strategic initiatives such as the Nigeria Financial Services Maps, a portal for geospatial mapping of access points, the development of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy in 2012 and a revision in 2018, research into financial exclusion, scoping of digital financial services in Nigeria, and many other activities that help accelerate access to financial services.

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While Gates was accompanied by Christopher Elias, president, global development, BMGF, and Abi Jagun, senior programme manager, BMGF, the CBN delegation also included Philip Yusuf, director development finance, and Paul Oluikpe, head financial inclusion.

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