By MAIMBOLWA MULIKELELA and KENNEDY MUPESENI –
ALMOST 30 years since the country reverted to a free market economy, a more financially literate population is needed to drive the new economic agenda forward.
In an economy like ours, a private sector led economy, where small and medium enterprises (SMEs) play a major role needs a financially knowledgeable population.
Nonetheless, collaborative efforts by the public and private sector individuals and institutions have championed the financial literacy campaign in the last eight years or more.
Every March of the year, a week is selected to bring awareness on a need for a financial savvy citizenry.
This year’s Financial Literacy Week was held under the theme “Take Care of Your Health, Take Care of Your Money,” just like last year’s “Be Money Smart to Live a Better Life”, resonates with the current
economic precarious situation caused by the devastating effects of COVID-19.
Players in the banking industry say they are firmly committed in ensuring that Zambia meets its objectives outlined in strategies put in place which will enable the country achieve financial health and stability.
Bankers Association of Zambia (BAZ) deputy chairman Simangolwa Shakalima says the industry is geared to helping Zambia meet the objectives in the 2017 to 2022 national financial inclusion strategy,
the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) and vision 2030 to ensure a financially healthy Zambia.
Mr Shakalima says the importance of financial education and its positive impact on development cannot be overemphasised.
“As a sector, we have initiatives aimed at reaching out to members of the public through engagements in the print and electronic media, sensitisation awareness activities in schools, communities, as well as
continued stakeholder engagement at various levels,” he says.
BAZ will in this case continue collaborating with the Government and other stakeholders towards the increase in financial literacy and financial inclusion levels.
Key strategic objectives of BAZ are to increase financial literacy levels as well as to develop innovative and technologically driven payment channels to ensure a financially included population in the
“It is for this reason that even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry embarked on a journey towards a cash-light eco-payment system and moved towards a tech-driven digital first
These strides are aimed at positioning the industry well even at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and accelerated the uptake of digital payments to unprecedented levels in 2020.
As for the Bank of Zambia (BoZ), the financial sector strategies being implemented will broaden the types of financial services in the banking, capital markets, and microfinance, insurance and pensions
These strategies are aimed at promoting financial inclusion so that all citizens have access to, and usage of a broad range of affordable financial products and services in the form of savings, credit,
payment, insurance, investment and mobile banking services.
BoZ governor Christopher Mvunga says the provision of a wide range of financial services and financial literacy is intended to empower citizens with necessary skills to manage risks, plan for the
future, and achieve their goals.
“Equally these skills will enable business enterprises to access affordable financing as well as help facilitate innovation, growth and employment creation, and ultimately contribute to realising Vision
2030,” Mr Mvunga says.
The insurance industry does not want to lag behind in terms of promoting financial literacy in the country.
The Insurers Association of Zambia (IAZ) thinks financial fraud should be critically looked at by dealing with unlicensed insurance providers in the industry.
It is important that members of the public make a concerted effort to tackle financial fraud and root it out of society as the country pushes the financial literacy agenda.
IAZ president Christabel Banda says member organisations of all licensed insurance and reinsurance companies should be keen to promote development, industry growth and the welfare of all Zambians.
“We also wish to remind the public to only deal with licensed insurance providers, and if in doubt it is important to confirm that you are dealing with a registered organisation or individual.
“We believe insurance is crucial for financial protection and recovery when misfortunes strike,” she says.
It is interesting that several insurance providers had effective online platforms, and several other insurers were seeking to make better use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) solutions in
the wake of COVID-19.
ICTs are an essential part of business in the new normal, and the insurance sector is adapting to serve the public better.
“I wish to reiterate the importance of financial literacy for economic empowerment, at every level of society. Financial literacy is about the knowledge and skills needed to make good financial decisions, and
it is important that all citizens are empowered with this knowledge,” she says.
For the country to achieve a financial know-how, indeed, the country needs to build a cashless economy anchored on updated knowledge based fundamentals from the education sector.
In a write-up on the Financial Literacy Week, economist Kelvin Chisanga says as Zambia celebrates Financial Literacy Week, there was a need to build a cashless economy on updated knowledge based
fundamentals for the education sector to cater for schools, colleges and universities.
“I strongly believe that if we have to increase adoption of cashless economy and digitalisation framework, the school children and students should be kept abreast with the new changes in their ICT syllabus and this model of adoption can greatly help them to fill up the gaps in passing information faster within the society going forward,” he says.
Mr Chisanga says investment in the education with the students and children right in the mind should be held firmly strong such that the learners must be subjected to learn about new changes taking shape in digital finance.
“This is important because we don’t want our next set of generational to face any form of inertia running through and operating on digital platforms such as digital currency, digital payments systems, or
getting to fully understand about the emerging cashless economy, and adoption of FinTech,” he says.
It is important to educate children about digital finance so that they can teach their own relatives or others to accept the cashless payment and saving modes as well as taking care of their health much
to the pleasure of fully knowing that “healthy is indeed wealthy” especially in the wake of COVID-19.
“This idea may truly widen up the market for digital payments across sections and this too may lead to proper stock taking of the FinTech sector of which I strongly believe that in our next Gross Domestic
Product (GDP) rebasing exercise,” Mr Chisanga says.
Driving a knowledge-based economy and gravitating it towards adopting a cashless economy and fostering a total digital transformation which should also strongly build on trade and commerce within the regional markets.
Managing businesses of all sizes requires a knowledgeable cadre of SMEs who can effectively manage their inflows and outflows.