By Oscar Michel, Masters in Journalism, DCU

A programme to improve the livelihoods and entreprise productivity across Tanzania has been launched by Bill Gates.

The co-founder of Microsoft landed in Dar es Salaam to support Tanzania’s financial inclusion agenda. The project has been launched by Gates and other joining leaders from government, financial service providers, mobile network operators and digital financial service providers.

The roundtable discussions took place on Tuesday 8 and Thursday 9 August 2017 in Dar es Salaam with an invited audience representing key stakeholders.

Under its Financial Services for the Poor programme, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation aims to “help people in the world’s poorest regions improve their lives and build sustainable futures by connecting them with digitally-based financial tools and services.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is a private foundation launched in 2000 and is said to be the largest transparently operated private foundation in the world. The main aim is to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty around the world.

“Part of the reason we value our work in Tanzania, is that it is such an important country but also because there is a lot of leadership activity on shared infrastructure including interoperability and National Identification” said Bill Gates during the roundtable discussions. He then talked about the potential for merchants to receive electronic payments and of how interoperability could reach across the region. He also discussed how he could support Tanzania in achieving joined-up systems for IDs and government payments.

A significant improvement has already been pointed out since investment in technology and innovation have been made. Over half of the Tanzanian adult population now has access to financial services due to the introduction of mobile money which can facilitate transactions even in the most remote areas of the country. Digital financial services have grown rapidly contributing to financial inclusion to a significant extent.

“research has shown that the most effective way to significantly expand poor people’s access to formal financial services is through digital means” said a member of the BMGF. “catalytic role in broadening the reach of robust, open, and low-cost digital payment systems, particularly in poor and rural areas—and expanding the range of services available on these platforms. “

The first roundtable discussion included Innocent Ephraim Head of Digital Finance at the Financial Sector Deepening Trust, an organisation that drives financial inclusion in Tanzania. Bill Gate, senior representatives from the banking industry, telecommunication industry, leading retail and FMCG corporates in Tanzania, Fintech and payment aggregation companies also took part in the meeting.

The second roundtable, hosted by the Governor of the Bank of Tanzania, Professor Benno Ndulu, brought together leaders from the key agencies responsible for financial inclusion policy and regulation to discuss opportunities for Government-to-Person (G2P) payments and ways to develop an open digital infrastructure to extend financial inclusion. He was joined by Bill Gate and key policymakers from the Bank of Tanzania, government ministries, Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA), Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF) and the National Identification Authority (NIDA) as well as leading stakeholders including the Financial Sector Deepening Trust (FSDT).


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