Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) Adopts Maputo Accord and Makes Historic Decision to Expand its Network at the 2015 Global Policy Forum in Mozambique

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Financial inclusion regulators from the AFI Network make small and medium enterprise (SME) finance a priority for national strategies

The 7th Annual AFI Global Policy Forum

the presence of so many financial inclusion leaders in the city has made Maputo the financial capital of the world

Over 450 senior financial inclusion policymakers and regulators, along with leaders from international organizations and the private sector, converged in Maputo, Mozambique, from 1-4 September for the 7th annual AFI Global Policy Forum (GPF). This year’s GPF, “Inspiring Innovation to Advance Inclusion," is the largest and most diverse forum the AFI Network has ever held.

The opening ceremony included a welcome address by the President of Mozambique, who thanked participants for coming and noted that the presence of so many financial inclusion leaders in the city had “made Maputo the financial capital of the world."

The keynote address was delivered by Madame Graça Machel, who spoke on the benefits of bridging the gender gap, noting that the impact would be equivalent to adding another China and India to the formal financial system. Madame Graça also stressed that financial inclusion was more than just an issue of economic empowerment. “Entry into the formal economy sends a social message: it says this citizen counts,” said Madame Graça.

At the AFI Annual General Meeting, held the day before the GPF, members discussed the future of AFI as an independent organization. Members agreed to open the Network to high-income emerging countries and accept regional organizations made up of current or potential AFI members. This decision was the result of the rising profile of financial inclusion and growing demand from countries and regional organizations outside AFI’s current make-up of emerging and developing countries.

The Maputo Accord was proposed by Mozambique’s Central Bank Governor, Ernesto Gouveia Gove, as an addition to AFI’s Maya Declaration, the world’s first set of measurable commitments to financial inclusion. The Governor made a passionate case for SMEs and their role in driving employment, economic development and innovation. He noted that supporting SME finance would strengthen economic development, and that the Maputo Accord would benefit all AFI countries. Members unanimously adopted the Accord, making SME finance a priority.

Green finance and gender were two of the most prominent and well attended sessions. Members recognized that environmental risks are a growing concern of central banks and financial regulators, and learned that developing and emerging countries are leading the way in innovative financing of a green, sustainable economy. Members were also united in their recognition that societies cannot function properly if more than half the population is left behind, and bridging the financial inclusion gender gap needs to be a priority. In 2016, AFI will explore the appropriate platforms to address these new areas of interest.

As has become a tradition at the GPF, members made new and revised commitments to the Maya Declaration on the last day of the event. Several made specific commitments on SME finance in line with the Maputo Accord. The National Reserve Bank of Tonga, Central Bank of Suriname and Superintendencia General de Entidades Financieras (SUGEF) Costa Rica made new commitments.

Reflecting on the theme of the event, AFI Executive Director Alfred Hannig asked AFI members to drive innovation in financial inclusion by “embracing change, allowing space to experiment, and by continuing to have bold aspirations for financial inclusion goals.”

The GPF 2015 closed with the announcement that the Reserve Bank of Fiji would host the 8th AFI Global Policy Forum, to be held in Suva, Fiji in September 2016.

The Alliance for Financial Inclusion is the world’s leading organization on financial inclusion policy and regulation. A member- owned network, AFI promotes and develops evidence-based policy solutions that help to improve the lives of the poor. Together, AFI members from more than 120 financial inclusion policymakers and regulatory institutions are working to unlock the potential of the world’s 2 billion unbanked through the power of financial inclusion.

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Peter W Foster
AFI
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