March 29–About 15% of Uganda’s 37 million population have no direct access to financial services as the country joins the rest of the world in celebrating the Global Money Week that runs from March 27th to April 2nd.
Under the theme, ‘Learn, Save and Earn’, this year’s emphasis is on providing greater financial inclusion for younger people around the world. The Global Money Week is dedicated to celebrating money and how it can used for the right purposes.
“The recent FinScope study shows that 15% of the population does not have any access to financial services or are financially excluded and this is not good for the country. As a country we must work hard to address this and ensure that our population is financially included,” Ivan James Ssetimba, an Assistant Director at the Bank of Uganda said at Makerere Business School in Kampala.
Ssetimba said there is a correlation between access to finance and poverty. He said as Bank of Uganda, financial inclusion is at the heart of the Bank and has since developed the Financial Inclusion strategy and fast-tracking its implementation.
He said access to finance is one of the ways to empower the youth economically and improve their livelihoods. However, he said there are several impediments. These include a limited knowledge about the labour market among the young people; legal requirements that for example, limit young people from personally opening bank accounts until they reach 18. He said such challenges must be addressed.
Speaking on behalf of the UN Resident Coordinator in Uganda, Innocent Ejolu said youth financial inclusion is a key driver to achieving development. He said three in every five young adults in Africa is currently unemployed.
He said youth unemployment is a very serious problem, but Uganda ease the situation by encouraging more financial inclusion.
“We recognize these challenges and the government in Uganda and across the continent must look for proactive approaches to enable young people reach their financial potential,” Ejolu said.
He repeated the UN’s commitment in supporting financial inclusion among the young people. Ejolu said through programs like ICDL, the Local Finance Initiative, Mobile Money for the Poor, the UN has partnered with government and the private sector to encourage more Ugandans are financially included.