Financial inclusion for women in Africa: Pathway to economic empowerment

Access to quality financial services is essential to inclusive economic growth and poverty alleviation. In the last decade, the African continent has recorded significant growth in financial inclusion. The progress in financial inclusion is spearheaded by innovations in digital technology, which is transforming financial services and the nature of financial transactions in the region.

This current change in the financial sector is enhancing access to financial services for the underserved and the unbanked population, which is reducing gender and income inequality. Financial inclusion in Africa almost doubled in 2017 when compared to 2011 (23% of the population had bank accounts or mobile money accounts), as 43% of adults had accounts at the bank or with mobile money service providers.

The growth in financial inclusion is largely attributed to mobile money adoption. Mobile money services in Africa have become indispensable, particularly in lifting women from poverty. Boosting women’s financial inclusion is vital to economic growth and poverty alleviation in Africa, where women experience a disproportionate level of poverty as a result of limited access to economic resources.

For instance in Côte d’Ivoire, where the gender gap for access to financial institutions increased by 90% between 2014 and 2017, the gender gap in mobile money dropped by 35% within the same period. Women’s financial inclusion in Africa has improved significantly in recent times. Between 2011 and 2017, the share of women with bank accounts or mobile money accounts increased significantly among African countries. Within this duration, women with bank accounts have increased by seven-fold in Senegal and double in Ghana and Kenya. Other African countries such as Uganda, Lesotho, and Gabon also recorded remarkable growth in financial inclusion.


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