Deauville PartnershipG7 Deauville Partnership High Level Conference – Responsible Financial Inclusion for Social Inclusion and Stability

28.4.2015 – More than 100 high-ranking representatives of central banks and regulatory authorities from the MENA region came together in Berlin in late April for a conference on financial inclusion in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA region) in the context of the Deauville Partnership. The conference was opened by the Parliamentary State Secretaries of the two host Ministries, Steffen Kampeter of the Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF) and Thomas Silberhorn of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). It was co-hosted by the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI).

BMZ Parliamentary State Secretary Thomas Silberhorn said in his speech that Germany would build on its long-standing cooperation with the region to further enhance financial inclusion, financial literacy and responsible finance. He highlighted the achievements of the past few years and underlined the importance of a regional exchange of knowledge.

Financial inclusion is a priority topic of the German G7 Presidency's agenda for the Deauville Partnership, with the aim of fostering sustainable and inclusive growth and employment in Arab countries in transition. One major obstacle in this regard is the lack of access to financial services. Small and medium-sized enterprises could benefit from the creation of reserves, access to credit and insurance, and lower costs for transferring money. Better financial inclusion gives individuals and small and medium-sized enterprises better opportunities to save, invest and transfer money and obtain insurance to properly cover their risks. This leads to the creation of new jobs, new enterprises and, thus, better opportunities for the people. At present, about half of the region's small and medium-sized enterprises have no access to basic financial services. Yet these enterprises are crucial for the creation of new jobs.

At the conference, participants from the private sector, international financial institutions and the G7 countries exchanged ideas and information on success stories of political initiatives for financial inclusion in Arab countries. The discussions showed that, while the transition processes are often fragile and take a long time, all the setbacks and crises must not be allowed to obscure the fact that structural reforms must continue to be supported.

One concrete outcome of the conference was the adoption of a regional action plan on financial inclusion. The plan highlights the special importance of providing financing for small and medium-sized enterprises, using digital technologies and fostering responsible finance, and it invites players to increase their activities in these areas. The panellists emphasised that the regional action plan on financial inclusion was of importance even beyond the G7 context, particularly in connection with the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI) and other international processes.