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Increasing Responsible Financial Inclusion in Liberia

Project Development Objective ( PDO )

This program aims to support the Government of Liberia (GoL) in implementing the recommendations of its Financial Sector Development Implementation Plan (FSDIP) towards expanding financial inclusion, in an effort to facilitate inclusive economic growth.

Background

Since emerging out of civil war in 2003, the Government of Liberia (GoL), in coordination with international development partners, has developed a series of economic strategies to guide development efforts in the country. These strategies include: the 150 Action Plan (2006), the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy (2007), Lift Liberia Poverty Reduction Strategy (2008-2011), Agenda for Transformation (AfT), and more recently, the National Strategy for Financial Inclusion (NSFI) (2014-2018) and the FIRST-funded Financial Sector Development Implementation Plan of 2016 (FSDIP), which has as one of its objectives, deeper financial inclusion. 

A financial inclusion baseline (FIB) survey conducted in 2013 by CBL with support from the Alliance for Financial Inclusion found that 72 percent of adults did not have an account with a formal financial institution.  The low number and concentration of financial access points continue to be a major challenge to increasing financial inclusion in Liberia. As of 2014 there were only 3.7 commercial bank branches and 1.8 ATMs per 100,000 adults.   Also the absence of agent banking, an undeveloped mobile money market, and nascent payment infrastructures constrain consumers’ access to financial services. Additionally, low levels of consumer protection, financial capability, poor governance and risk management by non-deposit-taking MFIs, credit unions, and VSLAs also serve as barriers to financial inclusion.

Activities / Output

This proposed FIRST program aims to contribute to the financial inclusion agenda of the Government of Liberia as envisioned in its Financial Sector Development Implementation Plan (FSDIP), the National Financial inclusion strategy (NSFI) and the Maya Declaration,  through promoting reforms in the following areas: (1) bolstering financial infrastructure through (1a) developing an agent banking regulatory framework, (1b) enhancing the mobile money strategy and regulatory framework, and (1c) fostering payment systems’ development, regulations, and oversight; (2) enhancing the consumer protection framework; (3) bolstering consumers’ financial capability through the design of a financial education strategy, program, and media campaign; (4) strengthening the regulatory, supervisory, and governance framework for non-supervised MFIs; and (5) supporting capacity building and implementation support for the operationalization of the FSDIP, including for the Financial Inclusion and Financial Infrastructure working groups.

Expected Outcomes

The overall expected outcome is increased financial inclusion - access and usage, more specifically to increase the percentage of adults with a transaction account from 28 percent (FIB survey) to 33.8 percent three years after program completion (2022), and to 43.8 percent five years after the program’s completion (2024).