The Bank of Ghana (BoG), has adopted a system to gather data from all the regulated financial institutions in the country for the purposes of bridging the gender gap in access to finance.
The Online Regulatory and Analytics Surveillance System , which would be fully operational by the end of the year, is meant to help the BoG develop more gender-specific policies and regulatory measures to promote gender-inclusive financial services ecosystem.
Dr Ernest Addison, Governor of the BoG, disclosed this during the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) and Bank of Ghana webinar in Accra yesterday, that the move formed part of measures to promote women’s access to finance as part of the country’s financial inclusion strategy.
The webinar hosted by the BoG and joined by a host of participants from Central Banks across the world was on the theme, ‘Integrating gender considerations into COVID-19 policy solutions’.
It provided avenue for the member countries of AFI to share experiences and lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic response and chart a way forward towards more gender-inclusive measures to spur economic recovery efforts.
Dr Addison said there was global consensus that the pre-COVID-19 economic order was skewed against women even though women contribution to economic activities on the continent was enormous.
He explained that despite the fact that women in Africa were responsible for 70 per cent of crop production, 60 per cent of market activities and nearly 100 per cent of food processing activities, a lot of women on the African continent lacked access to financial services.
He said a March 2020 African Development Bank study confirmed that female entrepreneurs dominated key growth sectors such as agriculture, textile and garments and yet lacked access to critical funding.
Dr Addison said the Government of Ghana and BoG had instituted a lot of measures to reduce the burden of the pandemic on Ghana’s economy and in particular on small businesses and low-income households.
He said the measures included a small loan facility to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to the tune of GH₵600 million (approximately US$ 100 million); a GH₵100-billion (approximately $18 billion) COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalisation of Enterprises Support Programme to expedite economic recovery; and the absorption of water and electricity bills for a number of months.
Dr Addison entreated the member countries of AFI to adopt new approaches to addressing the gender gap in access to finance.
“This is not the time to leave any one behind, and we must begin to be more intentional about bridging the financial inclusion gap and the disparities that exist from a gender perspective. This is critical to making progress in our inclusive socio-economic growth and development aspirations,” he said.
The Second Deputy Governor of the BoG, Elsie Addo Awadzi, said the pandemic had unleashed unprecedented hardship on vulnerable groups such as women, particularly those operating in the informal and MSME sectors.
“But there are opportunities to rebuild our economies, and while at it, to rebuild them in a manner that leads to more inclusion and resilience,” she said.
Dr Awadzi called for a gender-inclusive finance policy and strategies to address the gender-inclusive finance barriers to economically empower women to address the widening gender gap in access to finance.
BY KINGSLEY ASARE