- INFORMATION

Interview of RSIMA M Francis Yannick ZAMBO ZAMBO

Published: Wednesday, 18 July 2018 20:56

The North Regional Service for Insurance and Monetary Affairs

 A dynamic structure at the service of the people 

 

 

 

As an operational structure of the Directorate General of the Treasury, Financial and Monetary Cooperation (DGTCFM), the North Regional Service for Insurance and Monetary Affairs is outstanding, owing to the dynamism of its activity, irrespective of the security challenges in this region. This dynamism is driven by Francis Yannick ZAMBO ZAMBO, Chief RSIMA, with rank of Sub-director. In this regard, he is charged at the regional level with the coordination and implementation of the missions of the Ministry of Finance, with respect to the surveillance, supervision and stimulation of the banking, insurance, microfinance, exchange and transfers sectors of the region.

As a senior statistical engineer from the Sub-regional Institute of Statistics and Applied Economics (ISSEA) of Central Africa and holder of a Master 2 "insurance and risk management" from the University of Paris dauphine, the Chief RSIMA has also created the review “Bulletin statistique annuel du secteur financier du nord” which stands as the barometer of activities of the banking, insurance, microfinance, exchange and transfers sectors at the regional level.

Aged 38, Francis Yannick ZAMBO ZAMBO, with 12 years of working experience, accepted to showcase the structure placed at his charge since 2016.

 

Questionnaire

1-) Can you present your Financial Jurisdcition?

 

The North Regional Service for Insurance and Monetary Affairs an operational structure of the Directorate General of the Treasury, Financial and Monetary Cooperation (DGTCFM) which is permanently in contact with the people and other economic actors on the field. The RSIMA covers four divisions and its jurisdiction spreads to operations of financial sectors which concern banking services of 07 (seven) out of the 14 (fourteen) banks in Cameroon, insurance services of 16 companies, of which one broker and two general agents, operations of 23 MFI, having the widest territorial coverage with 53 distribution points. Exchange services are also provided by banks, one Microfinance Institution (MFI) and one money transfer operator. It is worth mentioning that regularly authorized service providers suffer an unfair competition from illegal exchange networks. Another issue which we monitor closely is the progress of financial inclusion, given the low user rate of financial services by the people. This rate stands at least at 2.7% for banks, 2.4% for microfinance and 0.9% for insurance. This shows that the region is lagging behind. Notwithstanding, with the combined efforts of the different professional groups, the Monetary Authority and other partners, the number of customers is steadily on the rise in most of these markets, even though the figures are still low.  

This is an acute problem which different entities have been striving to resolve over the years. Concretely, what is being done at your level to promote financial inclusion? 

 

We conducted studies on this lukewarm attitude towards the use of financial services which revealed the lack of financial education of the people, compounded by the remoteness of service providers (generally located in urban and sub-urban areas), absence of dissemination of reforms, contract implementation procedures or different regulations whose goal is largely to improve service provision and reinforced protection of consumers. We may also add the distrust of service providers, some of whom are accused of not honouring their commitments, a feeling which is strengthened by the irregularity of control of these structures by some supervisory entities. The difficulty here is that important aspects of control have been transferred exclusively to entities void of a local representation. Also worthy of note is the negative impact of the prevailing security situation in the Grand North. Fortunately, this situation has been minimized by the spontaneous growth of activities and preparatory works in view of the 2019 AFCON, to be hosted partly by the North Region.        

 

Actions are taken in this regard to improve this situation. For instance, under the coordination of our administrative and technical higher authorities, we have undertaken to sensitize the people. This starts by a good reception of users in our services and the provision of information and clarification requested, their accompaniment during certain procedures, etc. In addition, seminars are regularly organized to build the capacities of RSIMA staff. Another major instrument is the use of the local media for greater communication to the public. Presently, we plan to organize in the region, with the support of our different hierarchies and involvement of all sector actors, a mass sensitization campaign in the form of open-door-days of the financial sectors. The goal is to disseminate the regulations, reforms and procedures as well as create a discussion framework and partnership between the stakeholders. 

 

Another aspect which seeks to strengthen the credibility of these sectors is the follow-up of structures under its supervision through spot and documentary controls jointly organized with the central administration. This helps to anticipate detrimental situations for customers and sustainability of these services.

 

We also encourage service providers to ensure a greater territorial coverage of the Region by establishing in areas not yet covered, since in the North Region, there is a dense concentration of financial structures in the Benoue Division and notably in Garoua. Two out of the four divisions of the region are void of insurance service providers.

Finally, the RSIMA is the facilitator of various financial inclusion programmes, given the multitude of actors whose involvement is necessary for their implementation. The last illustration concerns the programme to implement the index-based insurance in the Grand North. It is the result of negotiations between the partners and a public-private synergy coordinated by the Department of Insurance in a bid to provide small holders with solutions to insurance coverage against harvest losses. In addition to the discussions which led to this result, the North Region derives the benefits of a proper organization of the value chain of its main agricultural sectors.    

3-) There is another recurrent problem: illegal exchange. What measures are taken in this respect in your region?

It is a real problem because, apart from encouraging unauthorized persons to carry on activities in this sensitive sector, it makes the movement of funds difficult, as concerns foreign currency. Let us recall that the scarcity of the latter due to the fall of oil prices is one of the reasons of the economic downturn observed in many countries of our monetary zone.

It appears that the difficulties faced in the region are the same in several other jurisdictions of the country. It is therefore a general problem whose solutions are envisaged well beyond the North Region. Notwithstanding, RSIMA Chiefs closely monitor the trend of situations and regularly render account to the central administration concerned. In addition to frequent discussions on this issue during their biannual conferences, they have forwarded proposals to the Department of Financial and Monetary Cooperation in view to clean up the sector. There is no doubt that the latter will contribute to improve the intervention matrix to be implemented in this regard.

 

3-) What is your action plan for the 2018 financial year and your mid-term appraisal?

 

Our action plan hovers around the major aspects which are: clean up, supervision and stimulation of activities in these markets, research and accompaniment of opportunities in the area of financial inclusion, rigorous follow-up of transactions in the field of external trade and other exchange activities, update of the cartography and statistical activities to guide the decisions of economic operators, not leaving out the need to reinforce the visibility of the RSIMA. The above actions, the implementation of which is ongoing or completed, are also in our action plan.

4-) Does the contract on the Extended Credit Facility signed between Cameroon and the IMF on the 27 June 2017 have any particular influence on the objectives of your roadmap?

Of course! It is an agreement which seeks to strengthen the capacity of our country to sustainably restore macro-economic balances in budgetary fields and transactions with the rest of the world. Concerning this last aspect in particular, RSIMAs are part of a system to control the regularity of operations in the scale of recurrent transactions.  

The other aspect on which we base our expectations within the context of our missions is the stated ambition of this contract to create favourable conditions for a sustainable growth drawn by the private sector, notably through the promotion of stability and financial inclusion. These two concerns, it should be stressed, constitute important points in the intervention of RSIMA in the banking, insurance and microfinance markets.   

 

6-) What is your relationship with users?

 

We have regular contracts with service providers of financial sectors and officials of import-export trade companies. This is proof of a remarkable collaboration with our services, within the context of information sharing, follow-up of resolutions, mutual clarifications requested within the framework of regulation or monitoring of their activities, etc. These relationships should be consolidated.

As for the public, referral to our services is generally within the context of disputes with service providers, dissemination of access conditions to professions and procedures relating to the application or subscription to contracts. This explains why it is important for us to use mass communication means to get to users and their relations with the juggernauts of these sectors. The information we receive indicates that the public is satisfied with such initiatives.

 

7-) What message do you have for the hierarchy?

 

            We are extensions of our technical and administrative hierarchies in our respective jurisdictions and fields. This is to say that there are regular contacts with them, which enables us to fully express ourselves on different points.