Telecom Operators to expand Financial Inclusion to 90 million Nigerians by 2020

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The quartet of MTN, Globacom, Airtel and 9Mobile are going to deepen financial service inclusion, with commitment to reach 90 million Nigerians by 2020.

After a meeting on Tuesday in Lagos, to articulate their strategies, the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) submitted that the target of 90 million would be met over next 30 months.

The meeting was facilitated by Academic Director and Senior Fellow at Lagos Business School, Yinka David-West, who commented; “Far beyond financial inclusion rates in Nigeria, we also have to examine how people currently considered to have access to financial services stack up when evaluated against the criteria for true financial inclusion, that is access to a full suite of quality financial services, provided at affordable prices, in a convenient manner.

“When evaluated against this definition, it is clear that as a country, we have to work, not just to drastically increase the number of financially included persons, but also to increase the quality of inclusion and access we give, especially if we hope to positively impact the economy and the quality of the lives of Nigerians in any meaningful way.”

The operators pledged that by the 12th month, they will bringing access to financial services to 35 million Nigerians serviced by 250,000 agents, “while by the 24th month, we commit to bringing access to financial services to 70 million Nigerians, serviced by 600,000 agents and by the 30th month deadline we have given ourselves, we commit to bringing access to financial services to 90 million customers, also serviced by 600,000 agents.”

According to David-West, the telecommunications industry recognizes that with an issue as critical as financial inclusion, it is important to focus on sustainable solutions.

“This requires inclusivity and collaboration of varied solutions providers in order to achieve real results. The telecommunications industry has the capabilities, technology, infrastructure, distribution network and subscriber base that can quickly be leveraged to provide these solutions.”

According to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the industry has a reach of 86 per cent of the country, with 162.3 million customers (the single largest customer base of any industry in Nigeria).

The industry players have a combined presence in 773 local government areas across the country further emphasizing their ability to reach especially hard to reach areas of the country in a bid to deepen access to financial services.

They also have 1,000,000 unique agents already in place selling airtime across the country, creating a strong distribution network that can quickly be converted to established mobile money agent networks.

The Chairman of ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo, was quoted as saying; “According to Mckinsey, as a direct result of increasing financial inclusion rates, Nigeria could realise as much as a 12.4 per cent boost in GDP, the creation of 3 million new jobs, $2 billion reduction in government leakages and $57 billion in new credit for small and medium scale enterprises over a four-year period.”

Posted by Juliet Ekwebelam