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Empowering people through digital technologies: More...
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H.E. Ms. Amina J Mohammad, Deputy Secretary General



    It is my privilege to welcome you all to this Special Event on 'Empowering People through Digital Technologies for Social and Financial Inclusion'.

2.    The event addresses a theme that is a global development priority. Technologies, especially digital technologies, occupy an increasing space in our lives.  The belief that new technologies hold the key to human progress has grown exponentially.  Along with this has emerged the determination that technological transformation, to be meaningful, needs to improve the lives of common people.  All over the world, we hear the cry of common people desirous of partaking the benefits of technology induced prosperity, perhaps unparalleled in human history. 

3.    Today, as we observe the 126th birth anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar, the principal architect of the Indian constitution, we thought that the best way we can pay tribute to his vision of social justice and equality is to address whether what economists term as the 'digital build-out' is actually indeed happening.   Are the fruits of digital technologies now spreading beyond benefiting the few? 

4.    The answers that we hear will be key to overcoming the persisting challenges of poverty, hunger and substantial socio-economic inequalities that exist within and among countries. They are also crucial in assessing how the international community is progressing collectively in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Financial inclusion is an enabler for Sustainable Development Goals.   It is said that Seven of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals relate to financial inclusion. 

5.    The pursuit of financial inclusion is a huge task.  It is estimated, 40 per cent of the world's adults remain financially excluded. Hence, it is a task that is measured not in thousands or even in millions but in billions - to be more specific 2 billion people still await financial inclusion globally.  However, there is hope.  In the last 3 years, 700 million adults are said to have gained access to the financial means to protect themselves and invest in their future.

6.    My own country, India, home to a sixth of the world's population, is replete with examples of diversity among people who are at different stages of development. We have launched a variety of nationwide schemes which are embedded with the thinking that large-scale, technology-enabled, real-time Direct Benefit Transfers can improve the socio-economic lives of India's poor.

7.    For example, over 270 million bank accounts have been opened in the last two years through the Jan Dhan financial inclusion scheme.

8.    Similarly, the Unique Identification System of Aadhar ID Cards has enabled 1.1 billion Indian residents to benefit from e-governance and e-services. What is important is the fact that these Cards come at a low cost of less than $ 2 each. 

9.    Mobile phone connectivity is facilitating social and financial inclusion of  hundreds of millions of Indians. Digital money transactions through a low-cost Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) mobile application is proceeding at a fast pace. This is symbolic of present day India's acknowledgement of Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar's vision of inclusivity.  More power to BHIM is now more than a slogan in India.

10.    In short, the JAM Trinity - Jan Dhan, Aadhaar, Mobile connectivity - are enhancing outreach to the poor and marginalised in the remotest of areas. Digital India is a mass movement. 

11.    These are global trends. In sub-Saharan Africa, 64 million people now use mobile money accounts including the popular M-Pesa. In Latin America, digital payments by governments into accounts for cash transfers are pushing the pace of financial inclusion.   


12.    Digital governance, it is said, is adding to good governance; digital delivery is ensuring faster delivery; digital accountability is leading to effective accountability. However, millions continue to grapple with the various socio- economic challenges. The 'Digital build-up' in support of those who are deprived, marginalized and discriminated remains a work in progress.

13.    We are, therefore, grateful to all those who have responded to our request to join as panelists and speakers on this topical issue.

14.    It is an honour that we have in our midst Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E. Ms. Amina J. Mohammed as the keynote speaker. As many of you are aware, she is a leading voice amongst those striving to make a difference in our global quest to find common solutions to global challenges. Challenges which can only be met through cooperation among multiple stakeholders. As the Deputy Secretary General she is actively involved in establishing global coalitions to address issues of social and financial inclusion, poverty reduction and sustainable development.

15.    Prior to taking up her current role as Deputy Secretary General last month, Ms. Amina Mohammed was the Minister of Environment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. 

16.    Earlier, she had served as Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning and was instrumental in the conclusion of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals.

17.    With these introductory words, it is my honour and pleasure to invite the Deputy Secretary General to make her keynote remarks. 

    You have the floor Madam.


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