Rwanda's financial inclusion has grown to 93 per cent, according to preliminary findings of a recent Finscope study soon to be launched.
Financial inclusion means that individuals have access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs ranging from transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance, among others.
According to the budget framework paper presented in parliament on Thursday morning, 93 per cent of Rwandans have been financially included since 2020 against a target of 95 per cent by 2024. That is a growth from 89 per cent in 2016 and 72 per cent in 2012.
"Despite this high financial inclusion rate, more efforts are required to cover the remaining 7 per cent of the financially excluded population, and to increase the utilization of formal financial services, including saving and borrowing," the Budget Framework Paper reads in part.
Over the years, financial inclusion has been informal (non-banking institutions) through innovative products and technologies. However, informal inclusion does not always provide a wholesome inclusion as it often lacks aspects such as access to credit.
Recent statistics show that over half the Rwandan population is not banked while only 24 per cent of the youth is banked as of September 2019. This is despite having 16 banks in the country and the fact that 77 percent of the youth is involved in economic activities.
The Rwanda formal financial industry has often been said to maintain traditional criteria and practices which further cause players such as banks to have little impact in driving inclusion. Banks have been said to have little proximity and relevance to the youth and young people.
Stakeholders such as telecom operators and financial technology have often been challenged to develop interoperable systems to have convenience among young people.
Alfred Hannig, the Executive Director of Alliance for Financial Inclusion, recently said financial inclusion was an opportunity for financial players as they have an opportunity to increase their clientele base. He said that financial institutions that are keen on the opportunity will increasingly be relevant and have better returns.
At the recent 11th Alliance for Financial Inclusion Global Policy Forum held in Kigali, stakeholders agreed to adopt pro-inclusion policy models, such as developing proportionate key regulatory and policy measures for enabling, promoting and enhancing the use of e-money services to drive up inclusion.
Countries, including Rwanda, agreed to use data to help policymakers generate evidence-based implementation of policies and regulation on financial inclusion.