The African Development Bank (AfDB) has thrown its weight behind digital currencies, putting in motion a machinery to build capacity particularly among the female gender in the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) countries, including Nigeria.
The African continental lender, yesterday, said its Board of Directors has already awarded a grant of $320, 535 to the West African Monetary Agency (WEMA) to mainstream gender in ECOWAS’ digital financial services (DFS) regulatory framework.
The funds, the Bank explained, will support a gender gap analysis of several WAMA strategies, including financial inclusion, gender disaggregation data analytics, digital payment services and infrastructure as well as digital identity.
The project, to be executed over three years, will potentially affect 350 million people in all 15 ECOWAS member states. The grant will be disbursed through the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI), a finance vehicle supported by the Bank.
“With a secretariat comprising all the 15 ECOWAS central banks, WAMA plays a pivotal role in the consolidation and implementation of strategic financial inclusion objectives. ADFI and WAMA project team will work closely with other ecosystem players in the region to ensure harmonisation of efforts for maximum impact,” said the ADFI Coordinator, Sheila Okiro.
The project has the potential to raise by 35 per cent women’s participation in digital financial market operations in the region, which has a higher gender disparity than other parts of the continent as reflected in its Gender Development Index of 0.825 as against Africa’s average of 0.871.
Africa has a gender-inclusion gap of 11 per cent as compared to the global average of nine per cent according to the 2017 Findex Report. To address this challenge, it is imperative that gender is mainstreamed across all functions but more so at the level of policy and regulation.
The project is aligned to ADFI’s strategic goals including its cross-cutting focus on gender inclusion, as well as the Bank’s Ten-Year Strategy, Gender Strategy (2021-2025).
ADFI is a pan-African instrument designed to accelerate digital financial inclusion throughout Africa, to ensure that an additional 332 million Africans (60 per cent of them women) have access to the formal financial system.