Fostering a savings culture among Rwandans

by Elayne Wangalwa 0

The savings week under the theme, ‘Save today and secure your future’ began on Monday dedicated to educate citizens on the importance of saving for the future as well as for the country’s economy in general.

According to Ivan Murenzi a financial inclusion specialist at Access to Finance Rwanda, the East African nation has taken great strides into ensuring it informs its citizens about savings ahead of this year’s World Savings Day on Friday.

“As of end 2012, we had 72 per cent of Rwandan adults accessing some form of financial services. That says something that if with education, with sensitisation , people can use financial services and we see mobilisation of capital which can be used for investment or for other purposes but also we see uptake of mobile financial services growing in the country,” Murenzi told CNBC Africa.

The country’s loan book has boosted banks to increase profits to 269.8 billion Rwandan francs in the first five months of 2014 from 185.1 billion Rwandan francs in a similar period in 2013.

According to recent statistics, Rwanda’s capital Kigali is the leading province with the highest number of people with saving accounts. The country’s current gross savings ratio to GDP is at a low of 15.3 per cent.

“As infrastructure is being set and people are being and people are registering for this and with sentisisation we think there will be more usage of the services and any other development initiatives can utilise that,” Murenzi said.

In a period of three years, cooperatives, known as Umurenge SACCOs, have attracted over 1 million customers. SACCOs and other MFIs are reported to serve almost the same number of people as the entire banking sector.

“So where the financial institutions are taking to the people, they are well as ready to open accounts. From last year and what we have this time and this week is to see a number of people open accounts with banks, with MFIs, with Sacco’s, wherever they are.”

Last year, Rwanda’s ministry of finance and economic planning rolled out a financial education strategy to promote financial literacy in the country in order to boost the culture of saving and investment.

The special savings week will encompass several initiatives including awareness campaigns, interviews with stakeholders and the public, just to mention a few.