Financial sector set for transformation with launch of FSD Ethiopia

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Newly-established development agency Financial Sector Deepening Ethiopia (FSD Ethiopia) has officially been launched on Thursday in a program held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Addis Abeba, Ethiopia.

Funded by UK Aid and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, FSD Ethiopia is expected to provide financial and technical assistance for both public and private sector domains.

Close to 120 guests attended the launch of FSD Ethiopia, including representatives from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), Ethiopian Investment Holdings (EIH), the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE), financial service providers, development agencies and other partners.

Ahmed Shide, Minister of Finance and Yinager Dessie (PhD), Governor of the National Bank of Ethiopia attended as the guest of honors.

Speaking at the launch, Ahmed said, “We welcome the establishment of FSD Ethiopia and look forward to its support in addressing some of the underlying challenges in the financial sector.”

He added: “We hope that FSD Ethiopia’s work will strengthen our financial markets to be more accessible, inclusive, and contribute to the sustainable development of our economy”.

Yinager for his part praised the agency’s mission to contribute to the transformation of Ethiopia’s financial sector. “We welcome the establishment of FSD Ethiopia as a reliable partner, and we look forward to working together to address our priority areas of financial inclusion, capital market development and institutional capacity development,” he said.

The organization’s role is to identify the underlying causes of financial system failures and provide technical and financial resources to market actors to address these constraints to help build a functional and effective sector that generates economic gains for a wide cross-section of Ethiopian individuals and businesses.

FSD Ethiopia’s vision is to contribute to a thriving financial system that delivers real value to the economy and the people of Ethiopia.

Ermias Eshetu, CEO, FSD Ethiopia, stated that the event marks an important step forward in efforts to build strong and inclusive financial markets in the country. “FSD Ethiopia will be an important partner to support the Federal Government’s efforts to ensure the country’s economic growth is inclusive and facilitates development objectives”.

“As one of the world’s fastest growing economies, a stronger and more inclusive Ethiopian economy has the potential to lift millions out of poverty and deliver long-term growth and prosperity, with the right support and initiatives” Ermias said.

Mark Napier, CEO of FSD Africa commented: “We believe now is the right time to establish an F5D programme in Ethiopia. There are huge opportunities in Ethiopia’s financial sector reforms but also challenges ahead”.

“Decision makers in both the public and private sectors will benefit from access to the neutral, technically informed advice and strong regional networks that FSD Ethiopia will be able to contribute,” he said.

Paul Walters, Development Director at the British Embassy in Ethiopia elaborated that: “FSD Ethiopia is an important vehicle for our support for economic development in the country. A robust, competitive, and inclusive financial market is essential to development. Through the work that FSD Ethiopia will support, we envision a for Ethiopia’s households and communities.”

Jason Lamb, Deputy Director, Focus Country Implementation, Financial Services for the poor at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, commented, “We believe at the Gates Foundation that everybody should have the opportunity to pursue a healthy and productive life.”

“We also believe that digital financial services are a key component to achieve this. Ethiopia is a priority country for our foundation and we have seen good impact from working with the FSD network across Africa,” as he puts it.

ESD Ethiopia’s board members were also announced, and include Ermias Eshetu, CEO, FSD Ethiopia; Admassu Tadesse, President Emeritus and Group MD, TDS Group; Berhane Demissie, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Cepheus Growth Capital Partners, Maleda Bisrat, Country Director Ethiopia, Tony Blair Institute for Global Change; and Mark Napier, FSD Africa, CEO.

In addition, the board will also include representatives from the Gates Foundation and FCDO as observers.

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