Finance Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe says government is committed to addressing challenges related to financial literacy amongst citizens through the introduction of custom-tailored financial literacy interventions and initiatives.

Mwanakatwe was speaking when she launched the 2019 Financial Literacy week, Monday evening, which runs from March 25-31, 2019.

Mwanakatwe said despite the country’s progress on financial inclusion, the levels recorded on the 2015 FinScope Survey showed that a lot more needed to be done.

“Our campaign will help to heighten public awareness on the need for planning and maximisation of positive outputs from these key life events in order to improve financial outcomes. Therefore, the Financial Literacy week will provide an opportunity for children, youths, and adults to increase their knowledge in order to live better lives,” Mwanakatwe said.

“From our perspective as a country, the Financial Literacy Week reinforces the need for citizens across all age groups to work towards attaining financial education that will help them achieve positive financial outcomes. The campaign is also aimed at empowering those seeking financial education with understanding and knowledge on how to make prudent decisions at personal, family, organisational, community, and national level.”

She observed that sound financial planning was key towards actualizing one’s ambition of living a better life.

“This year’s theme is a build-up from the 2018 Financial Literacy Week theme, which was ‘Save, Invest, and Insure-to Live a Better Life.’ You will agree with me that in order to meet the obligations that are associated with key events in one’s life, financial know-how and planning are very crucial. Our campaign will help to heighten public awareness on the need for planning and maximisation of positive outputs from these key life events in order to improve financial outcomes. This year’s campaign is adapted to meet the various objectives of the country’s 2017-2022 National Financial Inclusion Strategy, whose objective is to provide knowledge, understanding, and skills required to ensure improved quality of life for all citizens through enhanced financial inclusion,” Mwanakatwe said.

And Mwanakatwe highlighted some achievements that government had registered in expanding financial inclusion and enhancing financial literacy levels in the country.

“In 2017, my Ministry launched the National Financial Inclusion Strategy for the period 2017 to 2022. Through this strategy, we are working towards increasing the country’s financial inclusion levels from the current 59 per cent, recorded in the 2015 FinScope Survey, to 80 per cent by 2022. The strategy spells out the country’s vision for financial inclusion, which is to ensure universal access to, and usage of, a broad range of quality and affordable financial products and services. In achieving this vision, it is expected that Zambians will reap the full benefits of financial inclusion, which entails comprehensive access and usage of, appropriate savings, credit, payments, insurance, pensions and investments products and services. This will, ultimately, help citizens to manage risk, plan for the future, and achieve their goals,” she said.

Mwanakatwe, however, said despite progress made on improving financial inclusion levels recorded in the 2015 FinScope Survey, a lot more needed to be done for government to achieve set targets.

“Later on this year, we will be launching the National Financial Education Strategy. The initiative will be targeted at identifying financial literacy challenges and addressing them through custom-tailored financial literacy interventions. Our target is to have a financially literate population and the Financial Literacy Week and other related initiatives aimed at up-scaling financial inclusion levels in Zambia are among the ways we intend to achieve this goal. The 2019 Financial Literacy Week will be observed in various provinces across the country. Commemorative activities have been designed to reach out to stakeholders that are actively involved in financial education and financial service provision,” said Mwanakatwe.

“Among the activities outlined for the 2019 Financial Literacy week, include the public exhibition by financial services providers, the national launch on Tuesday, 26th March, 2019, and the provincial launch activities scheduled to take place on Wednesday, 28th March, 2019. Fellow citizens, I appeal to you to take time to visit the financial literacy exhibition sites closest to your location in order to gain the necessary knowledge required to make ‘money-smart financial decisions.’ I also urge all stakeholders in the financial services sector to partner with the government in providing support to facilitate enhancement of financial education for all. I expect that initiatives to up-scale financial inclusion should extend far beyond the Financial Literacy Week. Therefore, I expect financial sector players to promote and foster financial literacy activities on a frequent basis.”

The 2019 Financial Literacy Week is an annual awareness campaign commemorated to heighten sensitisation of the general public on various aspects of financial education, with the view of attaining higher levels of financial inclusion.

The theme for this year’s Financial Literacy Week is “Be Money Smart to Live a Better Life”. It was adapted from the 2019 Global Money week theme: “Learn, Save, Earn.”

Commemorations for this year’s week-long event were jointly-organised by the Bank of Zambia, the Pensions and Insurance Authority, the Securities and Exchange Commission, in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and the Bankers’ Association of Zambia, among other key stakeholders.