UNCDF works with the public and private sectors to meet the Sustainable Development Goals through the creation of a Digital Economy.
UNCDF is implementing the Leaving No One Behind in the Digital Economy 2019 – 2024 Strategy, with the goal to build digital economies that support women, youth, refugees, migrants and MSMEs to enhance their market participation, resulting in poverty reduction, improved livelihoods and economic growth.
UNCDF partnered with the European Union and the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States to implement the Digital Finance for Resilience programme in Gabon.
Digital financial services empower individuals and create market systems that address a wide range of challenges, such as climate change, urbanization, and the digital divide. Inclusive digital payment services are a core component of resilient financial markets and facilitate recovery in a post-COVID-19 world. They enable innovative solutions for retail credit, insurance, and savings, in addition to increasing social distancing, enabling health workers to be paid reliably and on time, and providing government-led cash transfers more efficiently.
Therefore, the specific objectives of the DFS4Resilience Programme are:
- To improve digital finance policies and regulations to respond early to emergencies and create an enabling environment for economic recovery.
- To create and strengthen digital finance ecosystems that support low-income individuals in particular women and youth; and MSMEs to mitigate immediate shocks of emergencies and increase economic opportunities.
Inclusive digital economies are the overarching goal for UNCDF’s work globally, to equip millions of people, specifically women, and girls, by 2024 to use digital services in their daily lives to empower them and contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. For migrants, an inclusive digital economy supports women and men migrants and their families towards greater financial inclusion, resilience, and equality.
UNCDF and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to jointly work to expand affordable and convenient access to digital remittances in the region through the “Regional harmonization of remittance policies” project.
To achieve this goal, UNCDF has been interacting with several key public sector stakeholders, including the ECCAS commission, the Economic and Monetary Commission of Central Africa (CEMAC) through its central bank, the Banque des Etats de l’Afrique Centrale (BEAC), and the Central Bank of the non-CEMAC country members.
The specific objectives of the agreement are threefold:
1. Contributing to the harmonization of the policies and regulations: Developing convergence criteria for the priority elements of the policy and regulatory framework.
2. Strengthening cross-border payments infrastructure: Leveraging the existing payment and financial market infrastructure to support cost-effective solutions to move money through formal channels remains critical to the harmonization agenda.
3. Capacity building: Strengthening the capacity of the key stakeholders including that of the REC Secretariat, regulatory institutions, central banks, and relevant ministries.
To further strengthen and improve the policy and regulatory environment for Digital Financial Services (DFS) in the CEMAC region, including Gabon, UNCDF has signed an MoU agreement with the Banque des États de l'Afrique Centrale (BEAC) to facilitate an increased flow of remittances through formal channels at affordable costs in the CEMAC region.
To aid this, UNCDF will provide technical assistance to BEAC on the legal framework and the regulatory options relating to DFS in the CEMAC region. UNCDF will also help BEAC drive change in the implementation of the Regional Financial Inclusion Strategy, and initiate public-private sector dialogues to federate the actors of the digital finance ecosystem around the regulatory framework on DFS in each of the CEMAC countries, including Gabon.
UNCDF will also facilitate and support BEAC staff's training and exchange visits to strengthen their skills in the field of digital financial services. This is part of UNCDF’s capacity-building approach where a learning agenda is co-created for the necessary momentum and conditions for meaningful and lasting regulatory change.
By improving the policy and regulatory environment for digital financial services, UNCDF’s collaboration with BEAC will help enable innovation in the CEMAC region for better financial stability, market integrity, and consumer protection—unlocking financial inclusion at a large scale.