Next Media has partnered with other news organisations and financial sector players to roll out a campaign dubbed 'Beera Steady - Be Better' through which a number of activities will be conducted in a move aimed at ramping up financial inclusion.
The CSR campaign, which was launched Tuesday at the Next Media Park in Naguru, Kampala -- will promote activities in line with promoting financial literacy, fraud prevention, and imparting any other cyber knowledge relevant to embracing the cashless economy.
"Financial literacy is a key component of a sound financial system," said Mackay Aomu, the director of National Payments Systems at the Bank of Uganda during the event. According to Aomu, the central bank is "working day and night" to ensure cyber security in regards to the financial sector is strengthened.
Kin Kariisa, the Group CEO of Next Media, noted that it was high time all the aforementioned sectors worked together to "see that digital money is seen as real money." He confirmed that all news anchors under his media conglomerate will always ensure that the campaign activities are highlighted before they begin news broadcasts.
The campaign, which will last two years, is timely, considering the vast majority of Ugandan adults, about 61%, do not have access to formal financial services, with women being particularly underrepresented. Only 31% of Ugandan women are financially literate, compared to 40% of Ugandan men, according to reports.
Digital fraud is also increasingly becoming a problem, with an estimated Shs100 billion said to have been lost to scammers in 2022 alone. "This campaign is for all of us to make Uganda better and build a trusted digital economy," said Kariisa.
The Managing Director of Equity Bank Uganda Anthony Kituuka underscored the role of a stronger digital financial ecosystem, citing the new era of financial access. "You can't be restricted to the time the bank is open," Kituuka said. "That is not freedom. We are in a gig economy. People work all the time and they need to get paid. We shall not relent on this fight." He emphasized: "We will not bow down to fraudsters."
MTN Uganda Chief Executive Sylvia Mulinge noted that driving up financial inclusion engenders "better financial outcomes" for the country. "We have a responsibility to drive financial literacy," she said. She revealed that out of the 17 million-plus customers MTN has registered, only about 11 million are using mobile money, an indicator of the need to do more financial education.
The Minister of ICT and National Guidance, Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, who was the guest of honor, embraced the idea, citing some of the struggles they encountered in their time, having grown up when mobile money transactions hadn't become a thing. He said the government is committed to rallying behind the 'Beera Steady - Be Better' campaign. The acting Executive Director of Uganda Communications Commission Eng. Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo observed that the whole world is "going digital because of the benefits." "We're not going to be left behind," she said, adding that with media involved in this campaign, it will easier to break down information for a common man.