As countries across the globe mark the World Savings Day, the Nigerian financial industry is taking up the mantle of increasing financial literacy and awareness among the teeming populace of the country.
Particularly, this year’s celebration is being directed at increasing financial education and awareness among the Nigerian youths. Rising from the Bankers Committee meeting held in Lagos last week, the committee disclosed that as part of the 2016 celebration, each bank will adopt two schools from each of the six geopolitical zones of the country.
According to the Chief Executive of Skye Bank, Tokunbo Abiru who spoke with journalists after the meeting, the banks will take on educating the students of the adopted schools in entrepreneurship, small businesses and various banking and finance industry products.
The World Savings Day is an event created to increase the public’s awareness of the importance of savings both for modern economies and for individuals alike and is celebrated by many countries across the world. The main topics are focused on the importance of savings in the global economy and how every depositor contributes to its development.
Established on October 31, 1924, during the 1st International Savings Bank Congress (World Society of Savings Banks) in Milano, Italy, by Italian Professor Filippo Ravizza, World Savings Day or World Thrift Day was founded to inform people all around the world about the idea of saving their money in a bank rather than keeping it under their mattress.
In recent times, the focus of the banks that organise the World Savings Day is on developing countries, where many people are unbanked. Savings banks play an important role in enhancing savings in these countries with certain campaigns and initiatives such as working with non-governmental organisations in order to double the number of savings accounts held by the poor.
Nigeria with a population of over 160 million has just about 63 million active bank accounts as at September 30, 2016 according to data on the website of the Nigerian Inter Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) the custodial of Nigeria’s banking data. This figure is an improvement over 58 million active accounts which the country has as at September last year.
However, there is still much to do as this figure is a paltry sum considering the 60 per cent financial inclusion target set by the Central Bank of Nigeria for 2016. The EFINA 2014 financial inclusion survey conducted reveals that 36.9 million individuals of the Nigerian adult population representing 39.56 are excluded from financial services. This figure is expected to have however improved by the end of the year when the 2016 financial inclusion surgery report is released.
On achieving its target, the CBN had embarked on various programmes in conjunction with the banking industry to ensure that more Nigerians are included in the financial industry and reap the benefits which include access to finance.
One of such is the Financial System Strategy (FSS) 2020 a national reform program aimed at developing and transforming Nigeria’s financial sector into a growth catalyst to fast track the achievement of the Vision 20:2020 and engineer Nigeria’s evolution into an International Financial Centre.
The FSS2020 is aimed at strengthening and deepening the domestic financial market, enhance the integration of domestic financial markets with the external financial market, supporting the real sector and promote sustainable economic development.
Based on the recognition of the linkage between financial deepening/growth and economic developments, the vision of the FSS 2020 is to make the Nigerian financial sector the fastest growing financial system among the emerging economies while the mission is to drive rapid and sustainable economic growth primarily in Nigeria and Africa.
For the MSME sector, which is the engine of the nation’s growth the CBN’s FSS 2020, aims at ensuring increase in the provision of long term low interest financing for the sector as well as collaborating with other stakeholder on the development of financial services, products and channels.
Asides this, it also targets promoting financial reporting and governance whilst collaborating with quality control organizations to ensure Micro and SMEs output meet national and international standards. The revised FSS 2020 is also expected to couple the enhancement of access to finance with business development support and work with the government to drive SME development in the country.
In reaching out to the younger generation, the CBN along with the banks had dedicated the 2016 World Savings Day to teaching children. According to the Skye Bank’s Chief Executive, due to the need to continuously improve on financial literacy, the entire industry had decided to play an active role in the upcoming world savings day celebration which will be marked on October 30, in Nigeria.
The plan he said is for each bank to take on at least two public schools in each geopolitical zones on the country, which will suggest that an average of 12 public schools will be taken up and this is going to spread across the country. This means that not less than 20,000 students from 288 schools in the country will be impacted by the programe.
Abiru said the students will be educated in the areas of SMEs, general commerce, manufacturing, microfinance and all other banking related products so as to create financial awareness as the population gets older and matured in the system.