AfDB calls for increased access to finance for women

Akinwumi Adesina
Akinwumi Adesina [Photo Credit: CNN]

The African Development Bank(AfDB) has called for increased access to finance for African women.

The president of AfDB, Akinwumi Adesina, said this during the inaugural session of the Global Gender Summit going on Rwanda.

The African Development Bank and the government of Rwanda hosted the Global Gender Summit from 25 to 27 November in Kigali.

The summit is being organised by the Multilateral Development Banks’ (MDBs) Working Group on gender, for the first time in Africa, with the theme “Unpacking constraints to gender equality”.

In a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES Tuesday evening, the AfDB president said the financial sector is saddled with the responsibilities to support Africa women by enhancing access to financial opportunity.

“From now on, we shall be grading every African financial institution for how well it helps women. Every financial ecosystem must evolve to support women. And we are going to put pressure on the guarantee banks,” he said .

He said 90 per cent of women usually repay loans without giving issues.

“When women borrow, they always repay. And 90 per cent of them repay their loans without the least problem. So, where is the risk? The problem is prejudice and the banks’ lack of flexibility,” Mr Adesina said

Panel session

During a panel session titled “Unlocking women’s access to finance in Africa”, the the Senegalese Minister of Women, Family and Gender, Salimata Diop Deng said women need support from the private sector and the banks to help them weave their way into the economy.

She said it is essential for financial institutions to support initiatives from women but they lack resources, collateral, and the procedures for accessing loans are complicated.

”Holding discussions with countries to improve the business environment. What is especially needed is legislation that reassures the banks.” the president of the African Guarantee Fund, Andrew Temu said.

Also speaking, the CEO of Ecobank Group, Joséphine Anan-Ankomah, said her bank is already making strides to ensure gender parity.

”The pan-African bank has signed up to the African Union gender parity principle of 50/50. “Currently we are at 46 per cent and out of that, 30 per cent of those women are in senior management positions,” she said.

Also, an entrepreneur, Christine Ngiriye, said collateral still remains an issue for women in getting finance or loans.

”I have seen little change in nearly 30 years, the problem that comes up again and again is that of collateral,” she said.

Five priority areas to achieve gender parity

On its website, the AfFB said a McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report prepared with McKinsey & Company, Africa, titled ”the power of parity: Advancing women’s equality in Africa” found that accelerating progress towards parity could boost African economies by the equivalent of 10 per cent of their collective GDP by 2025.

The report which was launched Tuesday at the 2019 Global Gender Summit examines the potential boost to African economic growth as a result of accelerating progress toward gender equality.

The first and second priority in closing gender parity, according to the report, is investing in human capital and creating economic opportunities.

“Women need economic opportunities if countries are to realize the full potential of their human capital,” the report said.

The third priority is to leverage on technology.

“Digital and internet technology is spreading throughout Africa and can be the lever that opens many doors to women, helping to overcome current challenges on a number of indicators of gender equality,” the report also advised.

“Priorities include creating women-friendly products to drive digital inclusion; and spreading the use of digital to raise financial inclusion and empower female entrepreneurs.”

The fourth priority is shaping attitudes. The report said any drive towards gender parity in Africa starts with efforts to change entrenched and widespread attitudes about women’s role in society.

While the fifth priority is to enforce laws, policies, and regulations,”Africa needs to ensure that women’s rights are enshrined in law and that, where laws already exist, they are rigorously enforced.”

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