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IFC and Senegal to Increase Access to Finance in West African Monetary Union

Dakar, Senegal, May 3, 2012— IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is fostering the development of private credit bureaus and full information sharing within the West African Monetary Union, or UEMOA, to increase access to finance for the region’s small business owners, less than 20 percent of whom have access to traditional financial services.
Today, IFC in cooperation with Senegal’s Ministry of Economy and Finance is holding the first regional credit-reporting conference in the UEMOA region. The conference brings together key government officials, policymakers, top financial managers, and opinion leaders from across the region to discuss the fundamental concepts of credit reporting and the benefits technology can bring to the region’s credit industry, consumers, shareholders, and overall economy.
“Developing private credit bureaus and fostering full information sharing are the fastest and most successful ways to expand access to finance and credit,” said Jérôme Cretegny, IFC Senior Country Officer. “The availability and use of credit-bureau reports in credit decisions increases the quality of credit decisions, lowers operations costs, and provides significant risk mitigation by minimizing default rates and fraud.”
The UEMOA comprises eight members countries—Benin, Burkina-Faso, Cote d’ Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. Its main objective is to create a common market among those countries based on the free circulation of capital, goods, products, services, and people and to harmonize its functioning. Increasing access to finance and credit for the region’s 80 million citizens is crucial to attaining this goal.
“UEMOA countries lack an effective national credit-reporting system,” said Abdoulaye Daouda Diallo, Senegal’s Budget Minister. “There are no private credit bureaus. The only source of information is the Central Bank’s database, which does not capture all of the relevant information, thus making progress on this front imperative to deepening the regional credit markets.”
IFC established the Global Credit Bureau Program in 2001 to foster the development of private credit bureaus in emerging markets. In recent years, the program has started supporting the development of public credit registries and was renamed the Global Credit Reporting Program. Since inception, the program has worked in more than 60 emerging-market countries worldwide and supported the set-up or significant improvement of credit-reporting systems in 20 countries.
In 2010, the program helped generate 31 million inquiries worth an estimated $6.2 billion in new financing to about 6 million retail and small business clients. It has received support from Australia, Canada, DfID, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Omidyar Inc., Norway, Switzerland, and Visa International.  
About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. We help developing countries achieve sustainable growth by financing investment, providing advisory services to businesses and governments, and mobilizing capital in the international financial markets. In fiscal 2011, amid economic uncertainty across the globe, we helped our clients create jobs, strengthen environmental performance, and contribute to their local communities—all while driving our investments to an all-time high of nearly $19 billion. For more information, visit .