Maputo — Funhalouro (Mozambique), 13 May (AIM) - Every district in the southern Mozambican province of Inhambane now has at least one bank, under the programme "One district, one bank", launched by President Filipe Nyusi in 2016.
The last Inhambane district covered by the programme was Funhalouro, where Nyusi inaugurated a branch of the Commercial and Investment Bank (BCI) on Thursday.
At the ceremony, Nyusi pledged that, by the end of 2019, all of the 154 districts in the country will have at least one bank branch. Currently only 115 districts have a bank.
The President added that the government, together with its partners and the commercial banks, expected to invest about a billion meticais (around 15.8 million US dollars) in this programme by the end of the year.
Nyusi said that, before the launch of the programme, the situation was a matter of concern, particularly in rural areas where people often had to travel long distances to reach the nearest bank.
"We were concerned to note that, in the countryside, about a third of the population spent three hours, or sometimes the entire day, to gain access to financial services", he said. "Our teachers, farmers, nurses, civil servants and traders were forced to walk for many kilometres to uses these services".
Spending such a long time merely to go to the bank, Nyusi added, affected labour productivity, and hence the development of the country. But since the programme was launched, the number of districts where there is at least one bank has risen from 85 to 115.
The President urged his listeners to increase their production as the fundamental condition to add value to the investment in new bank branches. "The banks can only work, if we are capable of producing", he said. "This bank is not here just to make the town look pretty".
For his part, the chairperson of the BCI Executive Commission, Paulo Sousa, said that the BCI has installed 19 new branches under the "One district, one bank" programme. A further eight BCI branches would shortly start operating in another eight districts. The new BCI branches had issued around 18,000 bank debit or credit cards.