The African Development Bank (AfDB) has signed a grant agreement for $500,000 with Y’ello Digital Financial Services (YDFS), a fintech subsidiary of MTN Nigeria, to be used for a study into economic, religious, and social factors hampering access to finance for women in northern Nigeria.

The research, which includes a feasibility study, women-focused design and testing, would focus on both agents and customers to provide insights into women’s use of mobile money services and would be funded through the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI).

The French Treasury’s Ministry for the Economy and Finance and the French Development Agency (AFD) co-financed and are partners the facility.

A statement yesterday by French Development Agency stated: “Despite being the continent’s largest economy, 55 per cent of rural Nigerians still lack access to financial services. The rate of mobile money adoption currently stands at four per cent, with an agent ratio of 228.8 agents per 1,000 adults.

“Political instability and conservative cultural norms in parts of northern Nigeria are thought to present barriers to women’s access to finance. Additionally, 80 per cent of agents in the region are men.”

The statement quoted the Director of the AFD in Nigeria, Xavier Muron to have said: “The AFD, through the ADFI is delighted to support this project, furthering our work to financing solutions that contribute not only to the development of a competitive economy that creates jobs and wealth, but also to shared, inclusive and resilient development.”

On behalf of YDFS, its Chief Executive Officer, Usoro Usoro, said: “We are truly excited about this partnership with the AfDB and the possibilities for advancing financial inclusion in Nigeria, particularly for the traditionally excluded segment of women in Northern Nigeria.”

ADFI is a pan-African initiative designed to catalyse digital financial inclusion throughout Africa with the goal of ensuring that 332 million more Africans, 60 per cent of them women, gain access to the formal economy.

Current ADFI partners are the AFD; the French Treasury’s Ministry for the Economy and Finance; The Government of Luxembourg’s Ministry of Finance; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and the African Development Bank,

On the other hand, Y’ello Digital Financial Services is a fintech subsidiary of MTN Nigeria, Africa’s largest provider of communications services, and the operator of MoMo Agent service.

YDFS is a financial service provider in agency banking and super-agent operation under the CBN Super-Agent framework and agent banking guidelines to provide amongst other services, agent network to serve financial institutions and Mobile Money operators in Nigeria.

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