H.M. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA), today participated in a bilateral phone call with Senegal President Macky Sall.
Queen Máxima and President Sall spoke for roughly 30 minutes with dialogue focused on the importance of women’s digital financial inclusion, highlighting the opportunity to galvanize commitment among African leaders in the context of his 2022 Chairperson-ship of the African Union.
Digital financial inclusion, notably for underserved groups such as women, can help people to bounce back better from the pandemic, as well as mitigate impact from future shocks. For example, Senegalese authorities incentivized the use and acceptance of electronic transactions to promote social distancing and public health during COVID-19 response efforts. This included more efficient mobile money account openings by remotely conducting identification and client verification protocols.
The conversation also provided a chance for Queen Máxima and President Sall to follow up on key items from the UNSGSA’s virtual country visit with Senegal in January 2021. This included an update on Senegal’s National Financial Inclusion Strategy and the government’s ongoing commitment to payments digitization.
Senegal is a member state of the Banque Centrale des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (BCEAO)—or, in English, Central Bank of West African States—headquartered in Dakar, serving the eight west African countries which comprise the Union Économique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine—or, in English, West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU). Along with Senegal, other WAEMU member states include Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, and Togo.
Financial inclusion in Africa is a priority issue for the Special Advocate.
In addition to collaboration with Senegal, last year the UNSGSA and her partners held virtual country visits with Côte d'Ivoire (June) and Togo (April) to support their national and regional financial inclusion initiatives.
The UNSGSA also engaged with South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa during a virtual meeting in March 2021 and a face-to-face meeting with Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor at Huis ten Bosch Palace in The Hague. Further, in September 2021, the UNSGSA had a virtual bilateral meeting with BCEAO Governor Tiémoko Meyliet Koné.
Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the Special Advocate engaged with numerous countries across the African continent, including visits to Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania.