Rwanda today joined the rest of the world to celebrate World Savings day. Prior to this day, the Ministry of Finance and Economic planning, in collaboration with different stakeholders organized various activities that called on Rwandans to develop a savings culture to safeguard their future, that of their families and hence contribute to sustainable economic growth.
The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Claver Gatete took time to discuss the status of savings in Rwanda and what needs to be done to improve it.
As we celebrate World Savings Day, could you tell us where Rwanda stands in terms of savings?
Minister Gatete: There has been a significant shift in how Rwandans perceive savings. According to FinScope 2016 survey findings 86% of adults in Rwanda save (This includes all forms of savings). Saving through formal institutions is at 49%. Uptake in formal savings is driven by Umurenge SACCO stands at 27% and by June 2017, term and saving deposit stood at Frw 542.3 Billion. All this indicates that we are moving in the right direction.
Savings is regarded in some quarters as a mentality issue, what is the Ministry in collaboration with stakeholders doing to turn savings into a culture in Rwanda?
Minister Gatete: The government adopted different initiatives to promote the culture of saving, among the initiatives include: instilling the culture of saving among the children and youth who are in school, integrating financial education content into the new school curriculum.
We are carrying out financial education for Adults and youth out of school; support the establishment of Umurenge SACCOs with the objective of increasing access to formal financial Institutions.
We are in the process of establishment of Long Term Saving Scheme (LTSS), to target saving for all Rwandan citizens including salaried and non- salaried workers. And as you know, Rwanda National Investment Trust is already linking small investors with capital market through a guided approach of the fund manager. All these efforts are aimed at helping Rwandans that saving is crucial.
The Rt. Hon Prime Minister spelled out the 7 year government program and among his pronunciation included the development of a robust financial sector. How does savings factor into this?
Minister Gatete: Under the 7 year Government plan, increasing domestic savings for investment and also position Rwanda as a hub for financial services is a priority. Achievable targets are going to be set in this respect to help us measure the achievement of this priority.
Currently savings as a percentage of GDP stands at 10.2%, is the attainment of 20% by 2020 still feasible? What needs to be done?
Minister Gatete: Looking at where we are coming from and where we are today, we can easily confirm that we are on the right track. All initiatives I mentioned above are being implemented and the Government will ensure their successful implementation.
The government, private sector (banks, MFIs, Insurance) and other players in financial sector will continue to play a big role to sensitize Rwandans on the importance of savings. We have laid out different initiatives to mobilize savings as articulated in 7 year Government plan, FSDP II and the financial education strategy. We believe these will have a positive impact on savings and consequently on the Economic growth.
When talking about savings, many relate it to opening a bank account and depositing money on a regular basis. How do you plan to encourage Rwandans in the rural areas who may not have access to financial services but who wish to take up saving?
Minister Gatete: We are working with Umurenge SACCOs to take financial education to the rural areas and ensure Rwandans there access, uptake and use appropriate financial services. We will encourage mobile network operators and banks operating agent banking to not only bring their products closer to the rural people, but educate them about them.
What is your message to Rwandans on the World Savings Day
Minister Gatete: It is important to stress that saving is saving is crucial for everyone’s future. It is important to not only on an individual level, but also at the national level as it brings down the poverty rate of a country; thereby contributing largely towards the economic development World Savings Day should be a reminder for Rwandans to embrace savings culture and sustaining it.