Representatives from across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) gathered in Khartoum to discuss the banking sector’s role in ensuring financial inclusion at the Financial Inclusion Forum: the Strategic Approach Towards Financial and Social Stability, held from 23 to 24 February.
The forum was organised by the Union of Arab Banks, the Central Bank of Sudan, the Council of Arab Economic Unity, the Sudan Banks Union, and the Arab Gulf Development Programme organised the forum. More than 350 people from 11 Arab countries participated in the forum’s events, namely Sudan, Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen, Jordan, Iraq, Tunisia, Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Oman.
According to a statement by the Union of Arab Banks, participant discussion focused on financial inclusion as a strategic objective for the governments of Arab countries and national banks. Financial inclusion was framed as a measure to support financial and social stability in the Arab region. The participants issued a series of recommendations that would better able the banking sectors in each respective country to ensure economic financial inclusion.
The Union of Arab Banks urged banks operating in the region to give special attention to financing small, medium, and micro enterprises as it contended that these institutions reduce the rate of poverty and unemployment while promoting human development in the MENA region
Moreover, the Union of Arab Banks called on Arab governments to set clear and specific goals for the initiatives they launch to achieve financial inclusion, and to carefully identify the target groups of each initiative so as to ensure success.
The union urged banks to develop risk departments, as a concomitant policy in line with expansionary efforts. Additionally, there was an emphasis placed on mitigating money laundering and identifying sources of funding for terrorist groups.
The Union of Arab Banks also called for banks to continue integrating new financial products and services that better connect the bank with its customers. The union hopes that a lower threshold of communication will increase the volume of banking transactions.
The forum was presided over by Sudanese Vice President Hassabo Mohamed Abdel Rahman and Governor of the Central Bank of Sudan Abdel Rahman Hassan Abdel Rahman.
During the event, the Sudan Banks Union also honoured Chairman of the Union of Arab Banks Mohamed Barakat.