3rd Pacific Islands Regional Initiative (PIRI) Leaders Roundtable

Speech by Mr. Norbert Mumba – Deputy Executive Director, AFI at the 3rd Pacific Islands Regional Initiative (PIRI) Leaders Roundtable.

Speech by Mr. Norbert Mumba – Deputy Executive Director, AFI
at the 3rd Pacific Islands Regional Initiative (PIRI) Leaders Roundtable. Kokopo, Papua New Guinea, 2017

Honorable Senior statesman and former Prime Minister of PNG, Sir Rabbie Namaliu
Mr. Denton Rarawa, Governor, Central Bank of Solomon Islands and PIRI Chair
Mr. Simeon Athy, Governor, Reserve Bank of Vanuatu and PIRI Co-Chair
Mr. Loi Bakani, Governor, Bank of Papua New Guinea and Host of the 3rd PIRI Leaders Roundtable
Governors of the Pacific Islands Regional Initiatives
Deputy Governors of the Pacific Islands Regional Initiatives
Partners, international experts and stakeholders
Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you for the very warm welcome and reception. It is a great pleasure for me to be here with you all in this beautiful city of Kokopo in the East New Britain Province of PNG. Permit me to briefly express my gratitude to Governor Bakani and his excellent staff at the Bank of Papua New Guinea. We appreciate all your efforts in hosting and organizing this important regional initiative meeting for the Pacific and the AFI network. Organizing such events is not an easy task and I congratulate you all on a job well done.

I would like to make special mention of our member who have travelled all the way from Seychelles to attend this meeting – Deputy Governor Jenifer Sullivan and team from Central Bank of Seychelles, welcome. As a small island, we hope that the lessons you will learn from this gathering will contribute to the knowledge of policy innovation that the CBS cab utilize to champion the cause of financial inclusion.
The Executive Director of AFI, Dr. Alfred Hannig, who cannot be here with us today, due to other pressing issues of the AFI network, has charged me to express his kindest regards to all of you who are taking part in this PIRI Leaders’ Roundtable.
The Pacific Islands is one of the most committed region to achieve greater financial inclusion in the world. Policy priorities in the region have been catered to facilitate the access of the lowest-income populations to financial services with the aim of creating conditions that really empower these groups to reach greater financial inclusion. Since its launch in 2015 in Dili, Timor Leste, the regional initiative has unlocked a resilient and long-term prospect for member institutions to share a common vision, while safeguarding the furtherance of efforts to scale up financial inclusion in the Pacific Islands. I am happy to note that the initiative through the seven member institutions have continued to implement innovative policy solutions that address the issues highlighted in the Dili Consensus on financial inclusion in the Pacific.
2016 was an exciting year for members of PIRI and I am happy to share some of the notable achievements of PIRI members including 2017:
• The hosting of AFI’s flagship event, the Global Policy Forum in Nadi, Fiji with adoption of the Denarau Action Plan.
• The recognition of the region’s achievements has grown within the AFI network, and as you may be aware, the Pacific is the only region to have won the prestigious Maya Declaration Awards twice, with awards going to the Reserve Bank of Fiji in 2013 and the National Reserve Bank of Tonga in 2016, congratulations.
• The completion of Demand Side Surveys (DSS) for Fiji, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu including the completion and publication of the survey findings on SMEs for Vanuatu in 2017. The data from the DSS surveys are important particularly in designing policy solutions for financial inclusion that are evidence-base.
• Development of National Financial Inclusion Strategies (NFIS) for Samoa, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and with expected strategies from Tonga and Vanuatu.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The theme for the 3rd PIRI Leaders Roundtable is “Digital Financial Services in the face of De-risking”, with discussions being held under the overarching theme of Digital Financial Services and technology. This theme is timely for the entire region as the issue on de-risking has had serious repercussions in the lives of Pacific islanders. However, there is opportunity for new business models in the pacific.

Remittance services using traditional transfer agents is the key service affected by de-risking in the Pacific. Regional regulators should encourage the private sector for new “business models” for providing remittance services without the use of a transfer agent. It may be that the age of the traditional Western Union money transfer agent is now coming to an end. We need to look at how other technology solutions can be used to facilitate remittance services to the islands, and pacific regulators need to be open minded in providing the enabling regulatory environment to support these new innovations. I see great opportunity for this.

In its 2015 report, GSMA noted that the mobile ecosystem in the Pacific Islands was directly responsible for driving major economic progress and welfare. The reported highlighted that in 2014, mobile technology was responsible for 4.7% of the region’s GDP, representing nearly US$2 billion in value added terms. The mobile ecosystem directly accounted for more than a third of that value, with indirect and productivity impacts accounting for the rest. Mobile services are increasingly seen as a driver of socio-economic development in the region, particularly in the areas of financial inclusion, disaster preparedness and response, and bridging the gender gap.

Over the next two days, we will explore a range of topics, including:
• Digital Financial Services (DFS) in the Pacific and deepening the discussion around the barriers and enablers;
• De-risking in the Pacific – is there a regional solution? If so, what can PIRI do and the experience that we can share with the AFI network;
• Green Finance and Financial Inclusion;
• National Financial Inclusion Strategies and the challenges and lessons learnt from implementation;
• Women Empowerment in the Pacific with discussion around what the PIRI members are undertaking in implementing the Denarau Action Plan;
• Enhancing MSMEs access in the Pacific, the Role of Technology.

This leader’s roundtable will provide the platform for members and stakeholders the opportunity to share their experiences and learning from respective experiences in our work in building a more inclusive regional community as indeed we share a similar vision where financial services are accessible by all Pacific Islanders. I am confident that, at the end of this meeting, we will all walk away with new insights and ideas to set PIRI on a stronger path of deepening financial inclusion across the region and contributing to inclusive economic development in Pacific Island countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The world in 2017 presents us with global challenges to the ideas of globalization and open exchanges: Waves of isolationism – Threat or opportunity? AFI will continue to be a champion for a global sharing community, and we will continue to show the value of this approach through our actions.

In that light, let me give you a few updates about the current work in the AFI network:
• We are working to strengthen the ties of the AFI network through new initiatives and offices. The regional office for Africa was formally launched at the AMPI regional event in Maputo announcing the bid going to the Ministry of Finance and Banque centrale des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (BCEAO. The bidding for the LAC office will close at the end of April 2017 and the process will be completed by August 2017.
• Regional Initiatives: We will be launching the Financial Inclusion in the Arab Region Initiative (FIARI) at the 2017 GPF in Egypt which will add to the other initiatives within the network (AMPI, PIRI and FILAC)
• We are expanding our PPD partnerships and trainings. In the last three working group meetings in Ghana, Seychelles and Tajikistan, including the AMPI event, VISA and mastercard provided trainings specific to member’s needs. I am also happy to note the presence of VISA in this meeting and I hope that they would be able to develop a training schedule for the Pacific based on the needs that will be provided by the experts group.
• We are expanding our important work on financial inclusion and gender, and following through on the priorities laid out in the Denarau Action Plan.
• We are seeing great progress with our Maya Declaration commitments. The Maya Declaration continues to be an inspiration across and beyond our network and I encourage you to build this into your work streams.

And as always, we are continuously looking at developing trends in financial inclusion and incorporating them within our policy work.
• Fintech: members endorsed proposal peer learning on Fintech/Regtech, now under preparation.
• Forcibly Displaced People workshop with the G20 on 26 April in Berlin – outcome report and we need members with experience to share their views
• Climate Change and Financial Inclusion (“Green Finance”)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to share with you my excitement about the upcoming 2017 AFI Global Policy Forum- the first to ever be held in the Arab region. Under the theme “Exploring Diversity, Promoting Inclusion” we are now working closely with Central Bank of Egypt to create a milestone event for financial inclusion. Official dates for the GPF are 13-15 September 2017 in Sharm-El-Sheikh, with the Regional Initiatives and Working Groups meeting set to take place the 11-12 September. We expect this to be the largest GPF- and largest event to ever be held by AFI- and most certainly, the working groups will play a key role in its success.

Before I close, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the efforts and contributions of our partners and friends. In particular, I wish to recognize the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) who funded and provided intellectual partnership for the realization of PIRI in its birth. We look forward to PFIP’s continued support to PIRI and its members.

85% of the worlds unbanked live in a country with an AFI institution.

This is our mandate and our obligation. The challenge before us is enormous. Indeed, it is a challenge beyond any one of us to conquer. But we are not alone. AFI’s strength is its members, its partners, and its supporters. Over 100 institutions, more than 90 countries working within an independent member-led institution.

And so, I return to our theme. “Digital Financial Services in the face of De-risking”. Let this be your guide as we spend the next day’s sharing financial inclusion lessons and knowledge here in Kokopo.

On that note, my deepest appreciation to Governor Loi Bakani and the team from BPNG for the excellent arrangements in hosting the 3rd Pacific Islands Regional Initiative (PIRI) Leaders Roundtable here in the beautiful surroundings of Kokopo. I look forward to a fruitful and productive deliberations.

Thank you very much for your time and attention

 

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