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Nigerians should have more access to Financial Services – Guardian Forum

A forum organised by The Guardian in Lagos yesterday called for more practical moves to reduce the percentage of adult Nigerians excluded from access to financial services. To the stakeholders at the event, such measures would boost the economy and lift many people out of poverty.

At the event, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) which revealed its achievement of 63 per cent financial inclusion out of the 80 per cent target set for next year said it was hoping to deepen the penetration figure by 95 per cent by 2024.

It was also revealed that about 41 per cent of women, 37 per cent of men, and 47 per cent of the youths are still very much excluded in the nation’s financial inclusion drive. Infrastructure deficit, inadequate policies and lack of education remain major limitations for further inclusion nationwide, with the northern part of the country, especially north east, remaining the region hugely challenged with low and slow financial inclusion drive.

The theme of the event held in Lagos was “Expanding Financial Inclusion Via Knowledge Exchange, Technology and Value-addition.”

The Head, Financial Inclusion Secretariat of the CBN, Joseph Attah, who was represented by the Assistant Director, Finance Development, Paul Oluikpe, said the national financial inclusion strategy was launched on October 23, 2012, with a target to reduce the percentage of adult Nigerians excluded from access to financial services from 46.3 per cent in 2010 to 20 per cent in 2020.

Oluikpe said the new CBN vision and drive became necessary so that the Nigerian economy could thrive and more people lifted out of the poverty cycle. He stressed that collaborative efforts have become key if the new targets must be met.

In his presentation titled “Access to Financial Services Survey in Nigeria,” the Chief Executive Officer, EFInA, Esaie Diei, urged operators to explore available data to provide solutions that would drive financial inclusion in the country.

Diei noted that though over the past 10 years, financial access has grown significantly, key financial inclusion challenges persist.