EU, OACPS and UNCDF Launch New Programme in Malawi

  • July 08, 2021

  • Lilongwe, Malawi

As part of the new partnership between the European Commission, the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) and UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) to unlock the potential of digital finance to benefit women, youth and entrepreneurs in 3 regions, UNCDF in Malawi launches a country programme to enhance financial resilience of Malawians, especially women and youth, using digital finance.

The programme comes as Malawi grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and is adapting to its impact. The new Digital Finance for Resilience programme aims to leverage digital finance to spearhead financial inclusion and increase access to other digital services, thus improving the lives of end-users.

In early 2021, the three partners launched a €15 million initiative for countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific to implement various activities to grow and develop the digital finance industry in target countries, with the goal of reaching a total of 600,000 women and youth. Malawi’s country programme aims to contribute to the overall goal by working with the Malawi Ministry of Finance, the Reserve Bank of Malawi, relevant government departments, private sector players and others in the digital finance ecosystem. The objective of the country programme is to support government efforts in expanding digital finance eco-system and support digital finance providers in managing or growing their agent networks to increase usage of and access to digital financial services and expand financial and digital literacy and innovative products and services that meet the customers’ needs. The government of Malawi is committed to increasing financial inclusion in Malawi, and this EU-OACPS supported digital programme is in line with that objective, as well as contributing to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

When speaking of the new joint initiative, the implementing partners shared the following:

Ivo Hoefkens (EU): This initiative is central to the European response to COVID-19. To recover from this crisis, the EU prioritises a fair digital transformation in international cooperation and partnerships. To that end, it promotes and supports a human-centric approach to digitalisation. The EU recognises the importance of Digital Financial Services for Malawi to build back better. The adoption and usage of digital financial services will help to increase financial inclusion during these difficult times, especially for women and youth.

Escipion J. Oliveira Gomez (OACPS): "The OACPS is proud to join forces with the European Union and the UNCDF in this initiative, executed within the third pillar, Financial Inclusion, of the Joint ACP-EU Private Sector Development Strategy. This specific programme shall contribute to improve the livelihoods of Malawian entrepreneurs by strengthening the competitiveness of the country’s MSME network. “

Iris Kissiti (UNCDF): "In this era of economic development, our vision is to promote digital economies that leave no one behind. Digital transformation plays a key role in Malawi through its impact on improving governing efficiency, transforming the agriculture and energy sector, improving health, and education, and addressing inequality. The pace and intensity of digital transformation, however, must ensure that people particularly the youth, women and marginalized groups are not excluded but empowered to use services in their daily lives that leverage innovation and technology and contribute to achieving the SDGs."

With the impact of COVID-19 on our economies, there is an opportunity to “build back better” by creating a more resilient and inclusive society capable of buffering risks in the face of future crises threatening sustainable development in Malawi. Digital finance products and services have been found to offer robust solutions for underserved customers to better manage their access and usage of financial products to meet their needs. Where only 34% of adults in Malawi own a formal financial service account, and with an increase in the number of digital financial services use cases brought to market, this programme can address financial and digital inclusion in Malawi and can contribute to reducing poverty.