“There has been recognition that there are areas outside the industry which require that we pursue internet banking, mobile banking and cheques as being part of the package,” Bankers Association of Zambia CEO of David Chewe told CNBC Africa on Thursday.
Banks in Zambia are largely private and despite the economic slowdown in the United States and the Eurozone crisis, Zambian banks have largely remained sound and well-capitalised.
A number of Zambians however remain unbanked and unable to access the financial services the country provides through banks.
The Bank of Zambia, in partnership with the National Savings and Credit Bank (NATSAVE), has implemented a programme to target Zambia’s unbanked population and provide financial services. Of the rural areas that have already been targeted as part of the country’s financial expansion plans, NATSAVE will launch a branch in Kalabo. This will be the district’s very first bank.
Zambia is currently undergoing a recapitalisation agenda driven by the government, where all banks have until the end of the year to recapitalise. Bank diversification is also on the agenda in order to attract more investment.
Currently only 37.3 per cent of Zambia’s population is financially included but the Bank of Zambia aims to achieve financial inclusion of 50 per cent of its population by 2015.
In Africa, financial inclusion of entire populations of country has been an on-going challenge for governments and banks. This has spurred on a number of mobile network operators to create mobile money applications to give communities access to financial services through their mobile phones.
According to a 2011 World Bank report, 56 per cent of the world’s adult population was unbaked, with sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia being the regions with the lowest percentage of banked individuals.