Rwanda marked the International Savings Day and subsequently launched a Special Savings Week with the call to promote the culture of savings among youth and the education on savings at an early age among children.
Financial sector stakeholders held discussions on how different financial products can encourage savings and called for financial education is the way to attain increase savings among Rwandans.
One of the issues discussed is whether financial institutions are selling wrong products that don’t encourage saving. Stakeholders agree that there’s a skills gap on both demand and supply sides and advocated for financial education.
During the discussions, stakeholders posed various questions such as: how to encourage more savings how much do we save ourselves as finance people.
The ministry of finance stressed the importance of saving and the government’s role in promoting savings among Rwandans, and said that financial education should target all age groups but specifically the youth.
The Minister of Finance, Claver Gatete, believes that the savings culture should begin at an earlier age, with the children nurturing that value as they transit into the adult life.
“Our savings rate is very low at 9.7 percent of GDP. We have to move forward. We are targeting 20 percent by 2020 in order to achieve our investment of 30 percent GDP ratio by 2020. This is how we can become a middle income country by 2020” Minister Gatete stated.
Parents were urged to encourage children to save by introducing piggy banks and one of the participants, Dr Daniela Beckmann said that wealth begins with the first coin in the piggy bank. The finance ministry called for stakeholders to avail enough piggy banks so that our kids are taught to save at a tender age.
The government has invested heavily in financial systems including the banking system, insurance, pension and the capital market, which act as mechanisms through which people can save. Initially there were very few banks with very few branches that were not reaching the entire population, but now, many other instruments apart from banks exist.
The government in 2008 took a decision to make sure that there is at least one SACCO in each sector. This mission has been very successful. If you look at the SACCOs and microfinance institutions now, they are more than 500 in number and are really critical in helping people to save.
In addition, the banking sector has also increased branches significantly and has reached almost every part of the country. They have also brought about other innovations like Agency Banking and other products like MVisa, depositing through the ATM- all these methods have provided people with more efficient saving avenues.