This article was released in The Namibian on 14 August 2018 in The Bottom Line, page 11. Written by Charmaine Ngatjiheue.
Namibians who do not have access to financial services stood at 22% in 2017, down from 31% in 2011 and 51% in 2007. This is according to the Namibian Financial Inclusion Survey (NFIS) of 2017, which showed that 78% of Namibian adults are financially included, and are served either through commercial banks, non-bank formal ways, or informal financial mechanisms.
The NFIS which was conducted in November last year by the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA), in collaborations with the Bank of Namibia (BoN) and FinMark Trust, had a sample size of 2114 households from the 14 regions of Namibia. Launching the survey yesterday, NSA’s statistician general Alex Shimuafeni said: “People need access to financial services, and knowing statistics that highlight such access will go a long way in advising institutions where to build. This information will thus provide us with the challenges, and of course, also how we can overcome them.”
This is a significant step, which allows for information that helps the sector, and can include more people. The sector should have flexible regulations to allow for innovation and inclusion.
He noted that over the past years, the financial sector continued to record positive changes in the level of financial inclusion expansion and improved efficiency in the system, although there is still room for improvement. “Of the 78% of adult Namibians who are financially included and have access to financial services, 72.6% are formally served; (67.7% of them are served by commercial banks; while 52.8% are served by non-bank formal institutions) At least 23.9% make use of informal financial mechanisms.”Shimuafeni said. He thus hopes the NFIS will stimulate evidence based dialogue, ultimately leading to effective public and private sector interventions which will increase and deepen financial inclusion strategies. The report looks at financial markets and the individual interaction with financial behaviour, needs, household structure, livelihoods, wallet size and financial and financial products.” he added.
BoN governor Ipumbu Shiimi commended the improvement in the earlier financial exclusion, which currently stands at 22%, compared to the 51% that was seen In 2007. “This is a significant step, which allows for information that helps the sector, and can include more people. The sector should have flexible regulations to allow for innovation and inclusion.” He added. Shiimi stressed that initially, stakeholders thought full financial inclusion was impossible was impossible as the target for exclusion 26% by 2021, as outlined in the Financial Sector Strategy of 2012-2021.
About FinMark Trust
FinMark Trust (FMT) is an independent trust established in 2002 with the objective of making markets work for the poor. Initial core funding was provided by UKaid from the Department for International Development (DFID) through its Southern Africa office. Recently additional funders have come on board including the UNCDF, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the MasterCard Foundation as well as private and public institutions at country level. FinMark Trust’s purpose is ‘Making financial markets work for the poor, by promoting financial inclusion and regional financial integration’. FinMark Trust does this by conducting research to identify the systemic constraints that prevent financial markets from reaching out to these consumers and by advocating for change on the basis of research findings. Please visit www.finmark.org.za for more information.