WSBI is delighted to announce the resounding success of its 29th African Regional Event and side events held in Marrakech on 11-13 October. Our generous host was AL BARID BANK, who holds the Regional Presidency in Africa. 

Commencing on October 11th with a public one-day conference on Financial Inclusion, the event offered a comprehensive exploration of this pivotal theme. We were privileged to host esteemed keynote speakers who provided a compelling introduction to the conference: Mr. Ryad Mezzour, Moroccan Minister of Industry and Trade, and Ms. Aouatif Hayar, Moroccan Minister for Solidarity, Social Integration, and the Family.

The first panel centred on socioeconomic empowerment for women, a critical focus in the African region. Notable participants included a member of the United Nations High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment, the Managing Director of EBRD, the director of  the Fondation Marocaine pour l’éducation financière; and Ms. Cynthia Ikponmwosa, the managing director of WSBI member LAPO Nigeria. These experts emphasized the significance of education, financial inclusion, and financial literacy in driving women’s social and economic empowerment in Africa.

Dr. Wissam H. Fattouh, Secretary General of Union Arab Bank, inaugurated the second panel by addressing the role of Fintech in financial inclusion. The discussion delved into the impact of Fintech on financial inclusion, regulatory considerations, and the importance of cross-border collaboration, providing diverse perspectives and expertise.

The next panel examined the impact of agent banking on the development of MSMEs, offering insights into how agent banking positively influences MSMEs and benefits entrepreneurs in the region.

The final panel focused on climate change adaptation and resilience, featuring Ms. Valerie Hickey from the World Bank, Mr. Diederick Zambon, Acting Director for the European Investment Bank, and Mr. Davide Forcella, Director of Just Institutes. This discussion shed light on the implications of increased climate risk for affected customers, particularly rural households, and emphasized the roles that financial service providers, implementers, and funders can play in preparing vulnerable populations against climate-related challenges. The event concluded with a speech by Mr. Khalid Safir, Managing Director of Caisse de Dépôt et de Gestion (Maroc).

On the following day, 12 October, the Annual Meeting for African members was held in the morning. This gathering provides the WSBI African community with a unique opportunity to come together physically once a year. It serves not only as a platform for members to get acquainted but also as a forum to present the significant achievements of the past year and outline the primary priorities for the upcoming one. This meeting holds particular significance for WSBI African advisors, as it plays a pivotal role in shaping the WSBI 2024 work plan for the African region.

In the 2023 annual meeting, we were privileged to host representatives from ten African institutions: LAPO Nigeria, Tanzania Commercial Bank, Botswana Savings Bank, FINCA Uganda, Caixa Economica de Cabo Verde, Caisse d’Epargne de Madagascar, La Poste Burkina Faso, People’s Own Savings Bank (POSB), CAISSE DE DEPOT ET DE GESTION (Maroc), and, of course, the host, AL BARID BANK.

The afternoon of 12 October was dedicated to the WSBI statutory meetings: the 58th President Committee and the 40th Board of Directors. The day concluded with a splendid gala dinner, graciously hosted by AL BARID BANK.

On 13 October the morning was dedicated to a Scale2Save side event title « WSBI as a catalyst for unlocking the potential of female entrepreneurs ». It brought together representatives from all regions of our network to share experiences on the topic. Wendy Teleki, Head of the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) Secretariat, housed at the World Bank, was the keynote. Later that day, Mrs. Teleki witnessed as WSBI President, Isidro Fainé, and Managing Director, Peter Simon signed the WE Finance Code. The Code aims to promote the reduction of the economic gap that affects women entrepreneurs globally, with a special focus on those living in developing countries.

In the afternoon, the 30th WSBI General Assembly took place. It was followed by our traditional reception in the context of the IMF and World Bank annual meetings also held in Marrakech at the time.

WSBI expresses its warmest thanks to all our kind participants, speakers and sponsors who made these events a great success.