Middle East and North Africa

Middle East and North Africa (MENA) comprises a small share of the world’s population (5%) and is characterized by its youth (50% or 88 million people aged 15 to 24), who show the highest unemployment rate worldwide (24%), in a context of change that led to a slowdown in economic growth (3%).

According to Findex, the region has the lowest percentages of adults with a formal account (18%) and of poor people with formal access to financial services (9%). In many countries, government plays a role in financial access through social funds (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen) or strongly supports the microfinance industry (Morocco). Reflecting the population share, microfinance coverage is of 3% of clients recorded on the MIX, with a remaining market estimated at about 19 million clients. The region counts both success stories and cases of severe crisis.

Out of twenty countries ranging from Morocco to Iran, CGAP focuses its efforts on a developing subset in the Levant and North Africa, supporting more enabling regulatory frameworks that enhance financial inclusion and stability. Additionally, CGAP works on promoting business model innovation in Islamic microfinance, branchless banking and postal networks, as well as more effective and better coordinated donor assistance.

Contact: Mayada El-Zoghbi



03 March 2017
This paper explores the landscape of measuring financial inclusion in the Arab world. The Arab Monetary Fund and its task force is working with CGAP, the Alliance for Financial Inclusion, and GIZ, among others, to advance measurement of financial inclusion in the Arab world.
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English (34 pages)
03 July 2014
This paper presents highlights of the 5th Arab Policy Forum, which convened more than 70 policy makers to work toward a common vision for achieving more inclusive—and more equitable—financial systems in the region.
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English (11 pages) | Arabic (11 pages)

From Our Blog

Chart: Account at a Formal Financial Institution by Region
13 March 2017
A new Arab Monetary Fund-CGAP report points to a huge unmet demand for financial services in the Arab world, where 70 percent of adults lack access to an account.
Man cuts marble with a power saw, Jordan
16 September 2016
CGAP, Yale University and Tamweelcom have taken a novel approach to the study of demand for Islamic and conventional loans in Jordan. This randomized experiment reveals new insights into the real demand for Islamic microloans, and the findings are striking.