Ethiopia calls for Africa to Promote Digital Financial Services to Boost Women’s Economic Opportunities

Ethiopia calls for Africa to Promote Digital Financial Services to Boost Women’s Economic Opportunities

September 23, 2020: H.E. Dr. Eyob Tekalign, State Minister of Finance of Ethiopia in a panel of G7 and African countries during the 75th UN General Assembly emphasized the importance of focusing on financial inclusion, which he said plays an eminent role in women’s and girls’ economic empowerment.

The panel was opened by a High-Level Keynotes and Discussion featuring Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, the UNSGSA, His Excellency M. Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa and Chair of the African Union; H.E Bruno Le Maire, Minister of the Economy, Finance & Recovery for France; and Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in support of the Women’s Digital Financial Inclusion in Africa. The keynote speakers highlighted how women’s economic empowerment and financial inclusion is critical to economic recovery across the continent, thereby making the case for increased attention and investment in Africa’s digital sector.

Dr. Eyob, as a panelist on women’s digital financial inclusion in Africa said “Although many African governments are doing much more to harness digital technologies to build more inclusive economies, much remains to be done to ensure women benefit from the digital advancements, especially those that live in rural and marginalized communities.”  


The State Minister also said “improving women’s access, use, and control over financial services enable them, especially the poorest women, to achieve the same status, power, and opportunities as men resulting in dramatic social changes that propels society forward.”


Furthermore, Dr. Eyob, noted how the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of digital services encouraging the use of digital payment services. In particular, he explained how for emerging economies, the challenges from the pandemic have brought more opportunities to promote financial inclusion objectives through the use of technology.


He also explained that although Ethiopia has achieved rapid growth in the financial sector, many households are still excluded from access to the necessary financial services. To address these challenges, he explained about the various economic reforms taken by the government to promote financial inclusion and serve the underbanked and underserved population.  In this aspect, the State Minister explained about the key economic reforms such as the telecommunications sector reform and the development of pertinent strategies such as the National Digital Transformation Strategy and the National Payment Strategy. He also said that the government has been working to ensure the correct regulatory frameworks including the recently issued license payment directive, which is enabling the private sector to invest in innovative financial inclusion services and products. He further added that much more remains to be done to address the various socio-cultural and economic issues that hinder the process of financial inclusion by investing to increasing women’s knowledge and awareness as well as investing in infrastructure, digital ID, access payments systems and financial services.

The panel was concluded with a call for a more concerted global response in supporting the financial as the pandemic has greatly emphasized the need for greater and more inclusive digitization of financial services. Several actions will need to be taken to ensure maximum inclusion going forward as the reliance on digital technology.

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