The leadership of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has signed a grant agreement worth $500,000 dollars with Y’ello Digital Financial Services (YDFS), a fintech subsidiary of MTN, for a study on the economic, religious and social factors hampering access to finance by women in northern Nigeria.
This is contained in a statement jointly issued on Wednesday in Abuja by Ms Onyinye Madu, Press Officer, French Embassy in Nigeria; Mr Olufemi Terry, AfDB Communication and External Relations Department and Mr Funso Aina, Senior Manager, External Relations, MTN Nigeria.
According to the statement, the grant will be funded through the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI), co-financed and partnered by the French Treasury’s Ministry for Economy and Finance, and the French Development Agency (AFD).
Mr Xavier Muron, AFD Director in Nigeria, in the statement, said that the research, which included a feasibility study, women-focused design and testing, would focus on agents and customers.
Myron said that the research would provide insights into women’s use of mobile money services and funded through ADFI.
“The French Treasury’s Ministry for the Economy and Finance and the French Development Agency co-finance and partner this facility; despite being the continent’s largest economy, 55 per cent of rural Nigerians still lack access to financial services.
“The rate of mobile money adoption currently stands at four per cent, with an agent ratio of 228.8 agents per 1,000 adults.
”Political instability and conservative cultural norms in parts of Nigeria are thought to present barriers to women’s access to finance. Additionally, 80 per cent of agents in the region are men.
“The French Development Agency, through ADFI, is delighted to support this project, furthering our work to financing solutions that contribute to development of a competitive economy that create jobs, wealth and also shared inclusive and resilient development,” the statement said.
It also quoted the YDFS Chief Executive Officer, Mr Usoro Usoro, as saying, “We are truly excited about the partnership with AfDB and the possibilities for advancing financial inclusion in Nigeria, particularly for the traditionally excluded segment of women in northern Nigeria”.
The statement noted that ADFI was a pan-African initiative designed to promote DFI throughout Africa and ensure that 332 million more Africans, 60 per cent mostly women, gained access to the formal economy.
It said that the current ADFI partners are the AFD; French Treasury’s Ministry for the Economy and Finance; the Government of Luxembourg’s Ministry of Finance; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and AfDB, which also hosts the fund.
The project is aimed at providing services, agent network to serve financial institutions and mobile money operators in Nigeria.