More women in sub-Saharan Africa have bank accounts

Photo: (c) Mkumbwa

In the 10 years leading up to 2021, women's ownership of financial accounts in sub-Saharan Africa doubled to 49%, driven by a 12% increase since 2017, mainly through mobile money adoption. Mobile money, offered by telecom or fintech firms, allows women to deposit small amounts, make payments, and store money conveniently. Some countries witnessed a shift from traditional bank accounts to mobile money. For instance, in Cameroon and Ghana, account ownership for women surged, largely due to mobile money.

Increased financial access benefits women in various ways, including enhanced safety, more control over household resources, and better ability to manage emergencies. As women use their accounts more frequently, they explore diverse financial activities like digital payments, saving, and borrowing. This shift encourages formal savings over informal methods, leading to greater investment in education and healthcare.

However, around 50% of women in sub-Saharan Africa remain unbanked due to barriers such as limited phone access and lack of official identification. Governments can address this by increasing ID issuance and ensuring access to mobile phones. Efforts to boost access should also include measures to protect women from financial risks and empower them to use financial services independently.

Continued investment in infrastructure and policies by regulators, advocates, and financial providers is crucial to sustain the momentum towards women's economic empowerment through financial inclusion.

Photo: (c) Mkumbwa


Author: Sylvia Jacobs

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