Implementation of Financial Inclusion Strategy in Nigeria
While global effort towards effective financial inclusion strategy has heightened over the past decade because of its positive correlation with improved income, employment generation, poverty reduction, and a stable financial system, research to date has not given adequate attention to the efficacy of national financial inclusion policy implementation in Nigeria, Africaâ€™s most populous nation. This paper applies the theory of change to critically evaluate how Nigeriaâ€™s National Financial Inclusion Strategy launched in 2012 is working towards achieving its set goal of reducing financial exclusion from 46.3 percent in 2010 to 20.0 percent by 2020. Annual data spanning 2008 to 2016 sourced from the World Bankâ€™s Global Financial Inclusion database, the Central Bank of Nigeria, and Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (EFInA) biennial surveys, were analyzed using descriptive statistics, tables and graphs to show the trend of key variables and regional differences. Progress made on nine key performance indicators (KPIs) of financial inclusion were investigated nationally and geopolitically. While Nigeriaâ€™s financial exclusion rate has reduced from 52.5 percent in 2008 to 41.6 percent in 2016, more than half (55.4%) of the female adult population still remained excluded. The South-West geopolitical zone has surpassed the 20 percent exclusion rate target, but the remaining zones, particularly in the Northern part of the country, remain largely financially excluded. Out of the nine major KPIs, expansion of banksâ€™ branches and penetration of the agency banking system are the only two indicators that have recorded high level achievement towards meeting the 2020 targets. Evidently, concerted implementation is needed to achieve financial inclusion in Nigeria. To this end, the paper recommends a four-pillar implementation framework anchored on enhanced businessfriendly environment, financial innovation, mobile capacity, and robust financial education.
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