Delivered by Econ Commercial Officer Jonathan Scott)
Thank you for inviting me to this Financial Inclusion Training program today. As the Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy here in Dakar, it is my pleasure to show our support for the effort to strengthen the financial services sector in West Africa so that entrepreneurs and consumers will both benefit from transparent, efficient and secure transactions.
I know that our friends at IFC, Wari, and Volo, have a terrific program lined up for you, including several of my colleagues from the Embassy who will be among the many specialists to address you.
In its recently released report, the IMF stated that emerging markets and developing countries, such as those in West Africa, account for more than 75 percent of global growth in output and consumption, almost double that of just two decades ago. This trend is accelerated by the adoption of programs across the region that encourage economic growth and investment.
In Senegal, and across much of the region, developments in the oil and gas sector are poised to make major contributions to economic growth. With the growth of 4G capacity, the Internet is opening even more opportunities. The U.S. government’s “Power Africa” program responds to the need for increased energy to meet commercial needs and, here in Senegal, to reach the goal of universal access to electricity by 2025.
So, I am optimistic about the future. You must be too, because you came here to see how you can leverage the power of the financial services market to improve your countries by increasing access to credit.
I recently learned about a great example of just this. Oolu Solar (Oolu is the Wolof word for trust) has teamed up with Wari to provide rooftop solar kits to Senegalese living in the countryside. For 3,500 CFA per month, you are able to have a solar panel that lights five light bulbs and recharges a cell-phone ten times a day. These same people were spending 3,500 CFA just for candles for one month and still had to travel some distance to charge their phones. The panels offer savings in money and time.
3,500 CFA allows a household to use a panel for one month. At the end of the month, the panel is deactivated. Once the household makes a payment via Wari, they are sent a code that they enter into the panel. This code activates the panel for the following month. After three years of payments, the panel is permanently unlocked and the household owns the panel. During those three years, maintenance and service is included in the monthly payments. After the household owns the panel, they can pay 500 CFA per month for continuing maintenance and service.
As customers keep paying, they are creating a good credit history that they can use for future purchases or investments. I am sure that when they get a taste for what life is like with electricity, their demands will increase.
And that is where you will come in. You will learn during this program how to know who is a good customer and who is not, who is currently using your system, how they are doing it and why. You will learn about tools such as “Know Your Customer”, or KYC, provided by Volo. Volo and IFC will discuss how they can help you analyze your customer’s trends. Who is spending what? Where are they spending it and when?
In addition, you will see a demonstration of a powerful software program used by the FBI known as “Analyst Notebook.” This tool is available to your institutions to track suspicious activity and find the source or the ultimate recipient of any series of financial transactions.
As I said, I am optimistic regarding future growth in the region. As oil and gas, electrical power, and the Internet are all set to inject more revenue into African economies, my question to you is, are you ready for this growth? Are you ready to service the new customers who will demand products and services?
I am certain that, with your participation in this program, you will be able to answer these questions positively, and that your companies and your countries will benefit. I wish you well.
Thank you for your attention.