Skyline of Egypt’s capital Cairo.
This week marks the successful completion of 3 years of work on the National Financial Inclusion Survey and Strategy in Egypt.
Financial inclusion is recognised to reduce extreme poverty and boost economic growth, enabling seven of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Worldwide remarkable progress has been achieved in improving financial inclusion: around 69% of adults have an account. However, Findex data shows that around one-third of adults remain unbanked.
To this day, Egypt’s financial inclusion numbers lie below the global average. However, tackling this circumstance is a core area of the country’s Sustainable Development Strategy, which aims to increase the resilience and competitiveness of the economy, improve the business environment and promote entrepreneurship leading to achieving financial inclusion and digital transformation.
To improve the supply of financial services for households and micro, medium and small enterprises (MSMEs), the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) needs accurate data, to correctly evaluate the situation and enable policymakers to develop policies and respective actions. Therefore, in 2019, the GIZ awarded the National Financial Inclusion Survey and Strategy to AFC, to support the CBE in evidence-based policy making for greater financial inclusion of individuals and MSMEs. The project is part of the BMZ’s special initiative “Stabilization and Development in North Africa and the Middle East”.
In the frame of this project, AFC, in collaboration with the national statistics office CAPMAS and CBE, conducted the first national representative financial inclusion survey in Egypt and build a data set as evidence base and baseline for future monitoring. Grounded on the analysis of the collected data and consultation of all relevant national stakeholders, AFC experts guided the CBE in drafting the first National Financial Inclusion Strategy for the country. The recommendations and action points provided will inform policy development to reach greater financial inclusion in the country.
More specifically, due to the data scarcity on financial inclusion, two national financial inclusion surveys were conducted, to evaluate the current state of financial inclusion in the country: one with formal and informal MSMEs and one with households. The surveys were designed to find out more about the drivers, usage and quality of financial services, as well as the barriers and types of financial services in use. CAPMAS, Egypt’s Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics, conducted 1-hour face-to-face interviews in the whole country. In total, they visited around 3,000 Egyptian MSMEs and 5,000 households, ensuring a representative geographic coverage. The MSMEs’ and households’ answers gave us insights into types of financial services used to manage their financial lives, the factors leading to or prohibiting accessing those services, and their needs for diversified products and services.
In addition, to collecting data from the demand side, we gathered supply side data from financial institutions and build a comprehensive data analysis tool for future use. Furthermore, over 30 stakeholders— including ministries, regulatory authorities, banks, microfinance institutions, and FinTechs— were consulted to develop the national strategy. This extent of involvement is important because structural long-term changes are needed to improve financial inclusion in a country.
Finally, after thoroughly examining the data, AFC experts identified different causes for financial inclusion gaps and disproportionately affected subpopulations. Consequently, a set of policy actions were formulated to close these gaps in support of Egypt’s goal to achieve a higher financial inclusion rate. These policy actions are taken into further rounds of consultation with national stakeholders prior to being publicly shared.