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					                      3rd Annual Microfinance Conference
                            University of Cape Coast

                            10th and 11th January 2008
                               Elmina Beach Resort

Special Message by Hon. Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning
                  [Hon. Prof. George Gyan-Baffour, MP]

The Chair, Hon. Central Regional Minister, Vice Chancellor, University of Cape
Coast, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to be part of
the general effort of this forum to provide support for the attainment of the
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
I also wish to recognise the efforts being made by the University of Cape Coast
(UCC) to provide a platform for deliberations on the use of microfinance as a tool
for the attainment of the MDGs. It is appreciated that the deliberations will also
serve as a means of building capacity for the microfinance sub-sector, and in the
process, assist the nation in its efforts in the attainment of the MDGs. I believe the
effort is commendable because it complements the Government’s efforts in
fostering public-private partnership.

As you may be aware, in the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy II (2006-
2009), one of the main pillars identified as an anchor for the attainment of the
MDGs is the promotion of private sector competitiveness. In order that this will be
achieved, the Government has shown a strong, sustained commitment to Financial
Sector reform in recent years aimed at broadening and deepening the financial
sector, particularly through reforms of the regulatory and institutional environment.
It is the aim of Government that the gains made as a result of these Financial
Sector Reforms will be consolidated through constant discussions with all the
stakeholders in the sector on the challenges facing the sector, with the aim of
providing the appropriate environment for the optimum operation of the sector,
especially the non-Bank Financial Institutions.

While the reforms in the sector have resulted in increasing competition in the
commercial banking system, it has been observed that the share of credit and other
financial services going to agriculture and the rural population still remains very
low. This situation has been attributed to the fact that the services of Rural
Microfinance institutions and Rural and Community Banks have not been well
suited to the needs and risk profiles of farmers and operators along the agricultural
value chains. While agricultural finance has been problematic worldwide, and
very few agricultural development banks have succeeded over time in both
servicing the agricultural sector and becoming self-sustaining, recent years have
seen considerable growth in experience and diversification of methodologies. This
has become the focus of the recently inaugurated Microfinance Forum.             The
Working Group on Rural/Agricultural Finance decided that it would be desirable to
hold a Workshop to draw on these lessons, as well as studies undertaken in Ghana,
to prepare a strategic framework and action plan for agricultural/rural finance that
could serve as a foundation for the development of new financial products suitable
for Ghana. The workshop will also serve as a platform for the coordination of the
efforts of various programmes being undertaken in this area. The Workshop is
expected to focus on issues such as:
       i). Providing financial assistance to poor farmers on a commercial basis (to
       avoid the perception of free money from government); and
       ii). Managing the risks of agric financing.
It is my hope that you will all make time to attend this workshop and share with us
your ideas and rich experience in this important area.

The Chair, Ladies and Gentlemen, Government recognises that tackling poverty is
one of the ways to achieve all the other seven MDGs, and that microfinance is a
strategy for wealth creation and poverty reduction. The multifaceted nature of the
using microfinance as an instrument for wealth creation requires an integrated
effort by all stakeholders. The Government therefore, in partnership with other
support institutions and development partners, in the past year has been engaged in
promoting the enabling conditions that are meant to promote microfinance as a
strategy for wealth creation and poverty reduction. An important promotional
activity is the preparation of a Microfinance Policy Document (GHAMP) which is
expected to regulate and direct the operations of microfinance activities in Ghana.
I am pleased to announce to you that the GHAMP is ready and will be launched by
the end of the month. As you are aware, the campaign on consumer education and
protection has already been launched.

Microfinance outreach, in terms of number of clients, has deepened tremendously
in the past half decade as a result of private sector initiatives, government
programmes such as the Poverty Alleviation Fund, Social Investment Fund, Rural
Enterprise Project and Rural Financial Services Project and other Development
Partner interventions, such as SPEED, UNDP MSME project etc. The biggest
challenge is for all of us to transform the access to financial services into strategies
that will promote better livelihoods so as to achieve the MDGs.

The Chair, as a sequel to the two previous themes of the annual microfinance
conference organized by the University of Cape Coast on “Microfinance Capacity
Building for Poverty Reduction in Ghana” and “Sustaining microfinance in
Ghana” this year’s conference should bring into focus the impact of the sub-sector
on the ordinary Ghanaian, so that outcomes of these researches would inform both
the government and the participating institutions on the need to rethink policies
and operational strategies.

The Chair, I must admit that it is gratifying to see in this room a very high level of
representation, including the Central Regional Minister, some international
dignitaries, representatives of Development Partners, practitioners and other
support institutions who have all responded to the call from the University for
discussion on the way forward for the microfinance sub-sector.

I wish this conference a very successful deliberation and anticipate that it will
provide us with a summary of issues deliberated on. It is my expectation that at the
end of the conference a copy of the declarations will be submitted to the
Microfinance Forum for further consideration and action.

Thank you and God Bless Us All.


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