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How Ghana’s New Digital Finance Policy Can Drive Women’s Inclusion

Onyeka Koldsweat Akpaida
Onyeka Koldsweat Akpaida

SOURCE: CGAP

Ghana made waves earlier this year when it launched the world’s first digital financial services (DFS) policy, building on the past five years of explosive DFS growth in the country. Among the policy’s goals is to ensure that at least 85 percent of men and women have financial accounts by 2023. There are reasons to be optimistic that this target is achievable for men, who already reached 62 percent account ownership in 2017, but what about women? Can the new policy help to close the gender gap?

According to the 2017 Findex, 54 percent of women in Ghana have formal financial accounts, meaning that there is an 8 percentage point gender difference.

Women cooking with a clean cookstove in rural Ghana.
Women in rural Ghana make vegetable soup in a clean-energy cookstove that their community purchased with a microloan. Photo: Brandon Smith, 2016 CGAP Photo Contest

Implementing the DFS policy with a gender lens

The DFS policy provides an overview for how a gender lens should be applied in its implementation. This includes understanding market dynamics from a gender perspective, considering normative barriers, engaging with women to understand their needs, monitoring the impact on women and addressing unintended consequences, and promoting the business case for serving women.

Image Credit: Stock Image

Below are five initiatives that the public and private sector could take while implementing the policy:

  1. Put gender at the center of DFS governance and regulation. The policy calls for members from the regulatory agencies supervising DFS to form a task force for evaluating “issues in the DFS landscape.” This task force should be gender balanced and should systematically review all initiatives through a gender lens.
  2. Collect gender-disaggregated data to inform enabling regulation. The policy underscores the need to increase gender-disaggregated data collection from all providers that submit data to the regulator. The Bank of Ghana should support the banking sector in that regard.
  3. Include gender sensitization in capacity building. The various government ministries, development partners and DFS providers that are working to advance financial inclusion should provide ongoing capacity building so that supply and regulatory-side actors in the financial services arena fully understand the unique constraints that women face as it relates to financial inclusion and how those can be addressed through policy, regulation and business practices.
  4. Target MSME payment digitization efforts to women-owned businesses. The digital payments' pillar of the DFS policy calls for promoting digital payments in retail. Focusing on women-owned businesses could have an outsized impact.
  5. Support fintech innovation that better addresses women’s financial needs. The policy recommends supporting fintech innovation and making Ghana a regional fintech hub.

Ghana In Focus

Population: 31 million (Compared to South Africa's 59.6 million)

GDP: $226 billion (Compared to South Africa's $369.85 billion)

GDP Per capita: $7,343 (Compared to South Africa's $6,193)

Download Ghana's Digital Financial Services Policy Document

Financial inclusion

Onyeka Koldsweat Akpaida

Female Financial & Digital Inclusion Specialist