October 28, 2016

Financial inclusion: Women can raise Nigeria’s GDP by 12%, says Okonjo-Iweala

By Chinenye Anuforo

Former Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has said that involvement of women in the Federal Government’s financial inclusion programmes could add about 10 to 12 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Okonjo-Iweala who spoke yesterday in Lagos at the Diamond Bank partnership programme with Women World Africa Advisory Council, stated that worldwide it has been proven that two billion people are excluded from financial inclusion and that including 1.6 billion of them can raise local GDP by 6 per cent by 2025.

She pointed out that part of the number to be included, more than half (808 million) of them are women. “So, they have done a study to show that including women and people financially can actually raise growth. The study also shows that countries with high women inclusion, for example, Ethopia and Nigeria, among others, can even add more to the GDP growth like 10-12 per cent higher than the global number.”

The former Minister explained that at times like this, the country needs to look at any growth opportunity it has, saying, “I always believe that where there is difficulty, there is also opportunity and therefore you have to look at that side.

In this particular case, that is where the issue of financial inclusion of women becomes very important because everyone is searching for what will help spark growth in different economies and even for us here in sub-Saharan African.

So, it is vitally important for us to look at this issue of financial exclusion of women on the continent. Seventy per cent of African women are excluded according to the numbers of access to financial services and if we bring them in, it will present another growth opportunity.”

She added that to drive the needed growth, government needs to get out the information that including women in businesses improves the bottom-line and that if you bring women into business and empower them, it increases growth of the economy.   In his welcome address, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Uzoma Dozie, stated that the bank is very passionate about growing and driving financial inclusion.

He said, “we are here today because Diamond Bank is hosting African Advisory Council set up by Women World Banking to promote the financial inclusion of women globally. The Women World Banking objective is to by partner with organisations, donor agencies, banks like Diamond Bank to develop products and services that will enable women to be financially included and add to economic development of countries like Nigeria.”