In their efforts to improve the rural finance environment through the promotion of a cooperative policy framework in Africa, the Central Bank of The Gambia recently hosted a sub regional course. The course, which concluded yesterday, was organised by Africa Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (AFRACA) for the West African, English speaking sub region.
The theme of the seminar was "Innovation in Addressing Rural Finance Challenges in Africa". The centre piece was a deliberation on initiatives which have the potential to improving small-scale enterprises which lack access to credit.
The Governor of the Central Bank of The Gambia, Mr. Momodou Bamba Saho, acknowledged, in his opening remarks, that microfinance is widely recognised as one of the tools in the fight against poverty as it can empower poor people in empowering their lives.
Mr. Saho cited Gambia as a typical developing country where a large part of the productive sector does not have access to basic payment services or savings accounts. Therefore the microfinance sector has the potential to fill the gap by serving the groups that the formal finance sector has difficulty reaching. In this regard Mr. Saho urged microfinance and related institutions to establish a strong bond with their customers to meet the customers needs and requirements.
The Vice-Chairman of AFARACA, Mr. E Mkwawa, said that rich countries scold poor countries for being solely responsible for their woeful poverty. He informed participants that the IMF/World Bank adjustment programmes were designed to address the four maladies assumed to underline all economic ills in Africa. These are the premise of poor governance, excessive governmental spending, excessive government interference and too much state ownership.
Mr. Mkwawa replied to these accusations by saying that the current African generation can end the corrupt relationship between powerful and weaker parts of the world which have been there for so long.
"This is Africa's crisis so this is our crisis," he added. He finally emphasised the importance of agriculture as an answer to Africa's ills.