The Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana has launched what is dubbed the ‘Retail Finance Distribution’ (ReFinD) initiative, aimed at researching the depth and role of financial inclusion in the country and on the continent.
The about-US$5million research – funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation according to Director of ISSER, Prof. Peter Quartey – will focus on digital financial inclusion and improving access to financial services in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs).
The research will be carried out by both researchers at the University of Ghana and other universities across the continent.
Speaking at the launch in Accra, Prof. Quartey emphasised that recommendations and associated outputs from the research will be aimed at promoting access to finance among marginalised groups like women and people experiencing poverty; adding that findings will help policymakers make informed decisions.
“With this research initiative, I believe researchers will be enabled to play more significant roles in assisting policymakers make informed decisions. In addition, the initiative’s commitment to contribute in overcoming the perennial challenge of limited representation for researchers from the global south in development studies will likely yield benefits for many years to come,” he said.
Former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Prof. Ernest Aryeetey who chaired the launch, commended ISSER for its bold step in securing funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the ReFinD initiative, adding that it will help citizens understand better all aspects of financial inclusion in the country.
“I am pleased that through support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, ISSER is once again doing work in financial inclusion. ISSER has been at the forefront of financial inclusion in Ghana and in West Africa.
“We have seen the advent of digitalisation and how it has affected developments in the financial sector, especially when it comes to access for lower middle-income households. I am very pleased that with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, ISSER is in a position to contribute in a very significant way to the understanding on how poor households can better use new digital means to access financing.
“With this project, not only will you see improvement in financial inclusion, but we will be able to understand better the link between the financial sector and other sectors of the economy. Digitalisation provides us the means to track what those low-income households and businesses do with the funds that they receive and how this can help their productivity,” he said.
The ReFinD initiative will span four years.