"The pandemic is the occasion to explore new digital approaches"
CATALYZING DIGITAL FINANCIAL SERVICES FOR WOMEN ACROSS AFRICA: SUPPORTING RECOVERY, RESILIENCE, AND INNOVATION DURING COVID-19
HIGH LEVEL EVENT OF THE G7 PARTNERSHIP FOR WOMEN’S DIGITAL FINANCIAL INCLUSION IN AFRICA
STATEMENT BY MR. NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF FRANCE TO THE UNITED NATIONS
New York, 23 September 2020
Good morning, good afternoon,
I am very pleased to be here with you together with Her Majesty Queen Maxima, President Ramaphosa and also Melinda Gates.
As you just said, Bruno Le Maire, the Minister of Economy in France caught the COVID-19 and he cannot be with us today and I will say a few words on his behalf.
First, I would like to say that gender equality is a key priority for France in its national and international policies. As you know, several ambitious deliverables have been launched during the French G7 presidency last year to promote and advance women’s and girls’ rights and we will continue to enhance our actions on this issue, especially through our feminist diplomacy.
We are almost one year after the release of the report “G7 partnership for women’s digital financial inclusion in Africa” which was presented at the finance’s ministers meeting in July 2019 during the French presidency of the G7. This report highlighted synergies between various public policies to reach this goal: regulation, payment interoperability, digital identity, research.
Since then, the health and economic consequences of the pandemics showed us that digitalisation is more crucial than ever, to avoid the transmission of disease, help vulnerable groups, proceed to government transfers for social protection, do health payments or mobilize money for a relative.
Women have been especially hit by the COVID-19 crisis and its consequences, as they are at the frontline of the response to the pandemic. Women support most of the domestic tasks, including healthcare and are over-represented in the service sector. Moreover, they encounter higher risks of revenues’ loss due to their overrepresentation in the informal sector – according to ILO, in Africa, 90% of working women are in the informal sector – which deprives them from social protection.
But the pandemic appears also as a game changer and is the occasion to explore new digital approaches. In this regard, Togo developed a very innovative welfare system, Novissi, which we are proud to support through the French Development Agency. Novissi provides a bimensual support with «mobile money» to informal workers and women accounts for 65% of the beneficiaries. Cina Lawson who will also take the floor will explain better than I.
From this project and others realizations, we now have to draw lessons to “build back better”. What was already a development challenge, became an indispensable element of the economic and social response to the crisis, both for short term relief and long term recovery.
According to studies, digital finance has the potential to provide access to financial services for 1.6 billion people in emerging economies, more than half of them women. It could increase the volume of loans extended to individuals and businesses by $2.1 trillion, as well as allow governments to save $110 billion per year.
This is why France encourages international donors and African governments to incorporate investments in digital financial inclusion as part of their COVID-19 response, to foster more inclusive, secure, and resilient economies.
Thank you very much.