Five Nigerian network operators have pledged to deploy over one million airtime agents for mobile money services in the country.

The Global System for Mobile communication operators said they would leverage their mobile base, integrated identity systems and distribution network to offer financial services to Nigerians.

During the inauguration of a financial inclusion committee made up of representatives of Globacom, 9mobile, Airtel, MTN Nigeria and ntel in Lagos on Thursday, the firms also gave the assurance that they would reach 90 million people with financial services by 2020.

According to the committee, other stakeholders and the government will be engaged to ensure that the telecommunications sector contributes its quota to the 80 per cent total financial inclusion and 70 per cent formal financial inclusion goal by 2020.

The telcos promised to drive an awareness programme that would deepen financial literacy across the country within the next three months.

The Chairman of the committee, who is also the Chairman of Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, Gbenga Adebayo, said, “In the short-term, the committee aims to deliver financial services to up to 35 million Nigerians and increase financial literacy and awareness within 12 months.

“The inauguration of this committee is a positive and necessary first step to achieving our goal of improving inclusion and literacy. We are focused on delivering sustainable solutions to achieve long-term results.

“The potential of our sector’s participation in these efforts is enormous. The telecommunications subscribers’ database is the most comprehensive; our coverage is vast and this speaks to the potential that we have as a group to truly contribute to solving some of the challenges that have been faced so far.”

The committee also articulated the next steps in view of the recent publication of exposure guidelines for the licensing and regulation of Payment Service Banks in Nigeria released by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“Our job is to ensure that our industry contributes effectively to financial inclusion and literacy in Nigeria. This committee is being inaugurated at an opportune time with the recent announcement by the CBN, allowing for an inclusive model that encourages all players to contribute towards driving financial inclusion in the country,” the secretary of the committee, Johnson Oyewo, who is of MTN Nigeria, stated.

Other members of the committee include Jane Amadi (MTN Nigeria), Oladokun Oye (Airtel), Samuel Akinsola (ntel), Chinedu Anochirionye (ntel), and Ismaila Suhailu (ntel).

Others are Oluwaseun Omotosho (9mobile), Chidozie Arinze (9mobile), Esaie Diei (Globacom), Oluwatosin Cole (Globacom), and Gbolahan Awonuga (ALTON Secretariat).