Multi stakeholders YouthSave Conference Ends

The Managing Director of HFC Bank, Mr. Asare Akuffo, has called on all stakeholders in child and youth development to intensify their various advocacy actions to ensure that children and the youth are included in the proposed National Financial Inclusion Strategy which is to be finalized in 2014, as indicated in the 2014 national budget statement.

He was speaking in Accra yesterday at the 2nd multi-stakeholder conference in Youth Development and Financial Services in Ghana organized by the HFC Bank in partnership with the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER).

The one day conference was on the theme: “Extending the Frontiers of Financial Inclusion to Children and Youth”.

Mr. Akuffo explained that the National Financial Inclusion Strategy, according to the budget statement, seeks to facilitate reduction in the size of adult population excluded from the financial system which currently stands at 44 percent.

“It is estimated that about 70 percent of Ghanaian adults do not have bank accounts. Several factors may account for this but I think one important factor that is overlooked is the fact that most adults did not have the opportunity to practically learn how to save and invest whilst in their formative years, so it becomes difficult to break the poor habit when they are now adults”, Mr. Akuffo observed.

Participants at the conference, comprising mostly the youth, deliberated on issues concerning the youth with regards to accessibility and participation in financial services.

Madam Corrinne Ngurukie, Regional Technical Advisor, YouthSave Project said the scheme is a five-year multi-financial initiative established in 2010 in four countries, namely Ghana, Kenya, Colombia and Nepal to educate and advise the youth on the importance of savings.

She said it also aimed at raising the standards of young people in the formal saving sector that would help them not only financially but in the nation's development.

Madam Ngurukie noted that since three years of the project's establishment Ghana is the only country that has seen significant percentage of the youth patronizing it.

Mr. Joseph Chognuru, Director of the Financial Sector Division, Ministry of Finance said the Ghanaian child and youth would be at the centre of the national financial inclusion strategy being developed by government.

“The comprehensive strategy when fully developed will coordinate the implementation of financial inclusions efforts, expand outreach and limit costs and duplication,” he said.

He said the strategy would also seek to broaden access, awareness and appropriate use of a range of financial services through tailored financial capability programmes.   

Mr Chognuru said government had also instituted the National Financial Literacy Week to raise awareness on the range of financial products and services available to consumers to help them better understand and manage their personal finances to achieve financial security.

“An integral part of the Week's activities is the organisation of national quiz on financial capability for Senior High Schools across all regions in the country,” he added ensuring financial protection and empowerment of children and the youth would require forging innovative partnership to achieve the desired impact.

Mr Chognuru said seeking to expand the frontiers of financial inclusion to the youth through a multi-stakeholder approach is appropriate and timely as it would contribute to the improvement of the financial landscape of Ghana.

He said experience in most developed economies had shown that early financial education in a person's life leads to financial independence and sound investment decisions.

“Certainly our educational system has a critical role to play and in this respect government with the support from the German International Cooperation through Responsible Finance Project, has reviewed the Senior High School syllabus by developing a more detailed content soon personal financial education in the Social Studies, Management in Living and Business Management syllabuses,” he added.

He said knowledge, understanding, skills, motivation and confidence are the basic principles that would enable individual's to make financial decisions in their personal circumstances.

He challenged stakeholders to continue to strive to harness youth contributions toward achieving Ghana's national development programme.

“Our meeting today signifies a declaration of our commitment to collaborate on several fronts to take the youth financial services to a higher pedestal,” he noted.

Among the sponsorship of the conference were Save the Children, Washington University in St. Louis, USA, the Master Card Foundation, New America Foundation and CGAP.