AFI launches Arab region’s financial inclusion initiative in Sharm El-Sheikh

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German state development agency (GIZ), Arab Monetary Fund (AMF), and the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) have launched Thursday the Financial Inclusion for the Arab Region Initiative (FIARI).

Launched during the AFI’s 9th Global Policy Forum in Sharm El-Sheikh, the new initiative aims to help accelerate conducive policies and actions for enhancing Arab societies’ access to financial services through an effective coordination mechanism, by supporting the implementation of national financial inclusion policies.

The regional initiative is using financial inclusion as a driving force for sustainable economic and social development, aligned with the range of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

“FIARI will enable us to engage in the region, to learn from each other on important issues such as financial inclusion for forcibly displaced persons, women’s financial inclusion but also SME finance. These are important issues and regulators can make a difference.” said AFI executive director Alfred Hannig.

The new initiative will play a key role in driving support for the development of policies, strategies and appropriate programmes aiming at enhancing financial inclusion in the Arab world, said Abdul Rahman Al Hamidy, director general chairman of the Board of the Arab Monetary Fund.

The AMF is committed to intensify its efforts in providing technical assistance and capacity building to member countries towards achieving universal financial access, Al Hamidy added.

The new initiative was launched in the presence of Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt Tarek Amer, and Abdellatif Jouahri, chairman of the Council of Arab Central Banks and Monetary Agencies’ Governors.

In establishing FIARI, the founding members draw on their successful cooperation from the regional policy forums on “Financial Inclusion and Employment” and “Financial Inclusion of Women” that took place in Jordan in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

They laid out the path for joining forces in the G7 Deauville Partnership’s Action Plan for Financial Inclusion in the MENA Region in 2015 and reiterated under the German G20 presidency and the Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion this year. FIARI will provide an open platform for coordination among all development partners involved in advancing financial inclusion in the Arab region, such as the World Bank.