President Filipe Nyusi has urged Mozambique’s financial institutions to expand their networks so that all of the country’s 152 districts will have at least one bank branch by 2019.

Speaking at the opening of the Financial Inclusion Fair in the city of Maxixe during the first day of his tour of the southern province of Inhambane on Tuesday, he lamented that although the number of financial institutions operating in Mozambique had increased from 12 to 18 in recent years, only 81 districts had bank branches.

On the same day, four major commercial banks — Millennium BIM, BCI, Moza Banco, and Nosso Banco — signed contracts with the Rural Development Fund, under which the government commits itself to create the facilities for the physical presence of banks.

The president said about 90 per cent of Mozambicans do not hold a bank account, with only three per cent of the population having access to credit.

According to the president, expanding rural banking is a government strategy to promote sustainable development through supplying financial services to local economic operators, employees, and the general public.

He added that the initiative also aimed to save people’s time as “about a third of the population still spends up to a whole day travelling to the bank”.

President Nyusi stressed the particular importance of banking services such as credit for small-scale farmers and for micro, small, and medium-sized businesses. He also pointed to the importance of educating people about finance to enable them to understand the information provided by banks. This would allow people to choose the right products for their individual needs.

Accompanying the President on his three-day tour of the province are the Minister of the Interior, Jaime Monteiro; Minister of State Administration Carmelita Namashalua; Minister of the Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries Agostinho Mondlane; Minister of Youth and Sport Alberto Nkutumula; Minister of Public Works Carlos Bonete; and Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Eusebio Lambo.