The Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL) conducted an assessment of its first strategy and it was clear that by having a more strategic and focused approach, they can be more successful in reaching the financially excluded population.

With the launch of the new National Strategy for financial Inclusion 2021-2026, the BSL will priorities and sequence key actions to address gaps identified in consultation with regulators, ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), the private sector and umbrella organisations representing the above target groups.

The strategy which was launched on Thursday 14th April, 2022 at the Atlantic Hotel, aims to specially target women, youth, rural population and medium, small and micro enterprises (MSMEs).

In his opening remarks, Deputy Bank Governor, Financial Stability Sheik Alhaji Yayah Sesay said that the effective design and execution of a strategy rest on six main foundation blocks; Data and Diagnostics, Target and Objective, Leadership and Coordination, Strategy Formulation, Strategy Implementation and monitoring and Evaluation and he believes the document that was launched embodies all these blocks.

Isaac Ahemesah, Country Director UNAIDS, who spoke on behalf of the Resident Coordinator, commended the Central Bank for the new Strategy which emphasis is focused on women and youths who make up the largest underserved population in the country. In the face of the current global development, there is an appetite for digitalizing financial inclusion as he urged colleagues to continue challenging themselves to digitalizing the Sierra Leonean economy.

He went on to say that their effort along with the private sector along with the private sector needs to be guided by thinking around questions which represent challenges that all of them need to work with the BSL and the Ministry of Finance to address. The questions revolved around whether there is fair and equal access in the digital ecosystem that creates opportunities for all especially small merchants in rural Sierra Leone; Are investments in digital public rules designed to enable participation of groups who have been systematically left out even those with no Ips or connectivity; How do we accelerate or leverage on civil registration as a tool for financial inclusion; and finally, Is the success of products and services measured just by adoption or how they are built for customers such as savings and insurance that are designed with client’s needs and capabilities in mind.

Deputy Minister of Finance I, Sheku Fantamadi Bangura talked around the human centered approach of the Strategy that revolves around women, youths and digitization, as these are key elements that are contained in the document.

According to Awoko Newspaper, he spoke about the governance structure of the Strategy which is critical and assured of the ministry’s commitment to be part of the structure and that whatever investment that will be challenged through this instrument there have to be structures that will account for those resources.

“We will continue to support the financial institutions in their effort to leverage innovative digital services and products that will positively impact the economic and social wellbeing of our people, support businesses in rural areas with client-centric financial services and products and more importantly to be knowledgeable about management practices but also have better trust in the sector itself in providing services to them” he promised.