H.M. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA), today concluded a productive two-day visit to Tanzania.
The Special Advocate visited the country to support a range of financial inclusion priorities, in close collaboration with key leaders and stakeholders. This included meetings with President Samia Suluhu Hassan, Bank of Tanzania (BOT) Governor Florens Luoga, Deputy Minister of Finance and Planning Hamad Hassan Chande, and Deputy Minister of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Eng Kundo Mathew, among others. She also participated in a fintech roundtable with private sector leaders to explore how innovation can better support digital and financial inclusion.
From Kilimanjaro to Dar es Salaam, UNSGSA Queen Máxima also conducted three field visits to meet with local customers who benefit from various financial services and products. These meetings served as an opportunity to witness the potential that digital and financial inclusion possess to transform the lives of many Tanzanians, notably for underserved groups such as the poor, women, smallholder farmers, and small businesses. Discussions included what might be needed to better meet their needs and help them build resilience and financial health.
Nearby Kilimanjaro, the Special Advocate spoke with smallholder farmers who protected themselves from climate shocks, such as droughts, with an affordable, digital insurance product from Acre Africa called “Weather Index Insurance”. The UNSGSA also met with mothers and babies at Charlotte Hospital who received the personalized healthcare that they needed during pregnancy due to an innovative, digital finance model called MomCare from PharmAccess. Finally, at Makumbusho Market in Dar es Salaam, Queen Máxima met with entrepreneurs and mobile money agents who have the potential to grow their businesses in an enabling environment.
A common theme throughout the visit was that digital and financial inclusion can unlock new economic opportunities for Tanzanians by expanding access and usage of quality financial services, especially for the underserved. Tanzania has made good progress in this regard, improving the number of financially included adults from 17% in 2011 to 52% in 2021 (Global Findex). However, 48% of adults in the country remain excluded, including a gender gap of 13 percentage points.
The UNSGSA identified several key areas to boost financial inclusion and foster an enabling inclusive digital economy in Tanzania.
This included investment in digital infrastructure that is inclusive and pro-poor—including key digital public goods like connectivity, digital IDs, interoperable and cost-effective payments, digital literacy, and data governance and privacy.
Second, updating and implementing the next National Financial Inclusion Framework could boost innovation, address risks from digital adoption, and increase financial inclusion and resilience. There is an opportunity to ensure coordination across the government and with the private sector as well.
Finally, enabling the private sector to develop the right business models can support the design and delivery of innovative fintech products and services that people truly need. Beyond payments, this could include savings, insurance, and credit to help people build resilience and financial health, as well as unlock economic opportunities.
This was Queen Máxima’s third visit to Tanzania as the UNSGSA. Previous visits included April 2010 and December 2013. Throughout this visit, the Special Advocate was supported by a select group of partners from her Reference Group—including from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), and the World Bank Group.
Promoting financial inclusion in Africa is a priority focus area for the Special Advocate. In June 2022, the Special Advocate conducted visits to Côte d'Ivoire and Senegal. The UNSGSA has engaged with numerous countries across the African continent to promote inclusive finance over the years, including visits to Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, and South Africa.