Sub-Saharan Africa comprises 48 countries and 47% of the people live on less than $1.25 a day (UN 2012). Although recent World Bank estimates confirm a positive declining trend in poverty this is still the highest in the world.
While there is large heterogeneity among countries and sub regions, Africa continues to record strong economic growth overall despite the weaker global economic environment. Financial systems in most countries remain poorly developed relative to other regions with only 24% of the adult population having bank accounts at a formal financial institution which is half the global average. Banks and other deposit-taking institutions, like cooperatives, dominate financial systems in Sub-Saharan Africa with regulated Microfinance Institutions increasingly playing an important role in expanding access to financial services to low-income earners. The last couple of years have also witnessed the emergence of Pan-African banking groups expanding rapidly in the region with significant share of domestic deposits. This has resulted in increased local competition while infusing new technologies, products, and managerial techniques (FSB, IMF, and WB 2011). Mobile money is increasingly playing a role in expanding access in the region where 16% of adults are reported to use a mobile phone to pay bills or send or receive money compared to a global average of less than 5% (FINDEX 2012).
In Sub Saharan Africa, CGAP focuses on promoting effective regulation and supervision that supports healthy access to a full range of responsible financial services, working closely together with regional bodies like the BCEAO, BEAC and East Africa Community. It also supports the development of viable business models for financial service delivery using technology with a focus on the West Africa Economic and Monetary Union region, Ghana and South Africa and foster strengthened capacity building through a network of francophone training partners and advice to capacity building facilities. We work closely together with a range of local industry players, CGAP members on the ground (such as AFD, IFAD, IFC, KfW, UKAid, UNCDF and the World Bank) and partners like Making Finance Work for Africa and the MIX.