Queen Máxima visits Nigeria to promote access to financial services

Her Majesty Queen Máxima is visiting the Federal Republic of Nigeria from Monday evening 30 October to Thursday 2 November in her role as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development. Nigeria launched its National Financial Inclusion Strategy in 2012, which aims to contribute to the population’s economic development.

Queen Máxima previously attended the launch of the National Strategy as UN Special Advocate in 2012 (Government Information Service press release no. 316, 2012). Her current visit will focus on ways to move faster in improving access to financial services. Central and subnational authorities both play key roles in this process. A greater number of banking agents and electronic financial services will also help connect more people to formal financial services. Data from Nigeria’s financial sector development organisation Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA ) reveals major regional differences. On average, 48.6% of adults in Nigeria have access to formal financial services. But the rate is only 24% in the remote northwest of the country, while 78% of the adult population in the south have access to a current or savings account, loans, insurance and pensions.

On Tuesday morning Queen Máxima will begin her trip by visiting two projects in the greater Lagos area. She will learn about an initiative that enables people living in poverty to take out health insurance by mobile phone. Patients complete an online questionnaire about their financial situation, and based on this personal data can be immediately given local government-subsidised insurance. The pilot project was launched at the request of the Lagos State government in cooperation with the not-for-profit organisation PharmAccess. The Queen will also visit a project where entrepreneurs can apply for loans electronically. The entire process has been digitalised, from assessing the applicant’s creditworthiness to granting or rejecting the loan.

After these visits the Queen will meet with Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, followed by a round table meeting with private sector representatives on the importance of unimpeded access to financial services.

The remainder of Queen Máxima’s visit will take place in the capital Abuja. On Wednesday morning 1 November she will speak with representatives of development partner organisations, including the World Bank Group and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as with representatives of the Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) and the Nigerian Commission for Communication (NCC).

Queen Máxima will visit a driving school that is also a banking agent, whose customers can open a bank account, deposit and withdraw funds, and transfer money. The easy atmosphere makes many people prefer to take their business here rather than to the bank itself.

On Wednesday afternoon the Queen will meet with the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. She will also talk with finance minister Kemi Adeosun.