The Sasana Accord is pushing Maya Declaration commitments to new heights

BERNADETTE VICTORIO

Participants at the 2013 AFI Global Policy Forum (GPF) in Malaysia detail their institution's achievements under the Maya Declaration.

Participants at the 2013 AFI Global Policy Forum (GPF) in Malaysia detail their institution’s achievements under the Maya Declaration.

A renewed resolve to lift the Maya Declaration to new heights has been evident within the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) Network in 2014, with efforts emboldened by the adoption of the Sasana Accord at the 2013 Global Policy Forum (GPF) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In full recognition of the wide-ranging impacts of the institutional commitments to galvanize national financial inclusion initiatives, the Sasana Accord outlines concrete actions to further strengthen their effectiveness, primarily through setting quantifiable national goals, as well as measuring and reporting progress based on the core set of indicators identified by AFI’s Financial Inclusion Data Working Group (FIDWG). The adoption of the Sasana Accord in the Maya Declaration is more than a milestone – it is a vital follow-up tool for three main reasons outlined below.

First, it resonates the urgency for making and updating commitments to include measurable national targets. In the three years since the launch of the Maya Declaration, a number of the pioneering commitments announced at the 2011 GPF in Riviera Maya, Mexico, have already been achieved and are now ready for an update. For example, in the Pacific, Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF) recently announced it has already fully achieved its target to reach 150,000 of the country’s unbanked and underserved population. Bank of Tanzania (BOT) also recently announced that it has already achieved its target set in 2011 to increase financial access by up to 50 percent of the population originally expected by 2015. In Latin America, Superintendencia de Banca, Seguros y AFP (SBS Peru) has become AFI’s first member from the region to fully achieve its commitments announced in Riviera Maya in 2011, including the enactment of a law to regulate e-money, regulation and promotion of basic accounts through mobile financial services (MFS), and increasing the number of retail agents and correspondent cashiers to almost 19,000 to exceed an original target of 15,000. Remarkable as it is though, these institutions’ journey towards achieving full financial inclusion do not necessarily end with the attainment of their initial target. The next mile still lies ahead and the Sasana Accord calls for AFI members to lead the next step forward by updating their commitments with renewed national targets under the Maya Declaration.

Second, the Sasana Accord sets in motion the immediate steps to building a common framework for measuring the progress and impact of institutional commitments. Having started a global momentum for financial inclusion, the Maya Declaration has attracted overwhelming support and following among AFI’s key development partners, creating a compelling reason to develop new data capture and progress measurement tools designed to further enhance its monitoring and evaluation. In response to this need, FIDWG is currently spearheading the development of an interactive online data platform which will consolidate the collection of AFI members’ core set data indicators as well as progress updates on the institutional commitments. FIDWG has also recently expanded the mandate of the Index Subgroup to lead the design of a progress tracking tool specifically for the Maya Declaration which will derive information on existing national quantifiable targets from the online data platform and measure them against reported core set data indicators. The subgroup, representing 10 AFI member countries – Colombia, El Salvador, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, and Thailand – is expected to present the first Maya Declaration Index Report in time for the next GPF in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. At the Forum, AFI members will have the unique opportunity to provide valuable inputs in shaping this common framework for progress measurement as part of the follow up to the action points agreed to under Sasana Accord.

Finally, it makes the Maya Declaration even stronger in leading greater national coordination and stakeholder engagement. A clear and measurable national target is often a unifying framework that can bring together an array of national stakeholders by highlighting their shared objectives for financial inclusion. For example, following the announcement of the Sasana Accord, Bangladesh Bank (BB) and the Microcredit Regulatory Authority (MRA) joined forces to combat financial exclusion in their country by announcing shared targets, including the increase of the number of deposit accounts as a percentage of the population from 64 percent to 72 percent by this year. Bank of Uganda (BOU) recently renewed its commitment to increase the percentage of financially included adult population from 54 percent to at least 70 percent by 2017 as a result of consultations with its national stakeholders also working to develop the country’s financial sector strategy. With one common goal, AFI members can better rally national stakeholder support to develop and effectively implement robust and sustainable financial inclusion strategies. Additionally, clear and measurable national targets also have the immense potential to attract support from like-minded international development partners. In 2013, the World Bank pioneered the launch of a financial support framework specifically tailored to assist countries that have made commitments under the Maya Declaration. Many other international development institutions and even private sector organizations have followed suit since, not only reaffirming the mobilizing power of the Maya Declaration, but also effectively shifting the paradigm of international cooperation from advocating top-down goals to supporting bottom-up national targets.

Looking ahead, we expect to see more developments in the implementation of the Sasana Accord culminating at the 2014 GPF. Leading up to the Forum, you can continue to follow news and updates on the Maya Declaration via our website and Twitter feed. AFI members are invited to join the conversation on the Maya Declaration and to share their thoughts on the implementation of the Sasana Accord via our online Memberzone.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bernadette Victorio is the Maya Declaration and Global Policy Forum Manager at the Alliance for Financial Inclusion.

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