RBZ targets PWDs in new strategy

HARARE - The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) says the National Inclusion Strategy, will among other things, push to have people living with disabilities (PWDs) access banking halls and withdraw their money from Automated Tellers Machines (ATMs) without difficulties.

This comes as the central bank noted that not all banks had the infrastructure that specifically catered for people with disabilities such as those confined to wheelchairs.

RBZ deputy director, Bank Supervision Division, Norah Mukura, said there were various barriers that were stopping PWDs from accessing financial services, including infrastructure and other systems.

“There are barriers that are there or constraints that stop them from accessing financial services as people with disabilities.

“They can be physical infrastructure, for example, at ATM machines, there is no facility for people in wheelchairs to properly access their funds, and the documents do not cater for those who can read Braille.

“And then we come to the issue of education; education is important and because there is limited access to education facilities by people living disabilities. So this has also affected them.

“So even the level of unemployment is low and this has limited their ability to access financial services and even to open a bank account,” Mukura told a networking meeting of PWDs.

She said the level of financial inclusion was still far from the ideal position envisaged by the RBZ, so the National Inclusion Strategy will look at banks having equipment designed for use by people in wheelchairs or staff trained to help these individuals.

Financial inclusion refers to the access by marginalised individuals to financial services, including those offered by banks, stock exchange, insurance and others, which can help people improve their livelihoods.

They are over 817 000 PWDs according to the national census conducted in 2012 constituting about six percent of the country’s population, with over 70 percent of these living in the rural areas.

“That is a sizable number and we need to do ensure that whatever we are doing as policy makers, there is something that is targeted at this group of people,” Mukura said.

According to a 2014 survey by the RBZ, the banking sector recorded a level of exclusion of 70 percent, insurance had a 70 percent level of exclusion, savings and investment sector had 53 percent while capital markets had a 99 percent level of exclusion.

The mobile money sector and borrowing sector had levels of exclusion around 50 percent.

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