The Afghanistan Institute of Banking and Finance (hereafter “Institute”) was established in 2010 to provide education, training, and research to Afghanistan’s banking and financial sector. Over the past three years, the Institute has delivered training on a broad range of subjects. In addition, it has established various relationships with regional banking and other financial institutes. From the beginning, the Institute was created as an independent non-profit organization with its own facilities and full-time training and support staff.
Most observers would agree that Afghanistan’s banks and micro finance units suffer from critical capacity shortages and must rely heavily on foreign nationals to operate financial institutions. The Afghan financial community also faces substantial challenges related to its participation in global finance markets owing largely to Afghanistan’s reputation as a home to terrorists and those who traffic in illegal currency flows.
In addition, Afghans have a low rate of engagement with formal financial institutions. Only 9% of adults (3% for women) have an account with a formal financial institution compared to a global average of 50%. Just 3% saved money and 7% obtained a loan over the previous year. One percent of the population has a credit card, 7% has used mobile money, and 8% has a mortgage.
Afghanistan’s banking system still largely relies on unsophisticated collateral-based lending restricting access to capital. Most housing transactions, for example, are cash and Afghans typically depend on informal financing from family members and non-bank moneylenders; modern mortgage lending practices are virtually non-existent. The World Bank estimates that Afghanistan’s housing finance-to-GDP ratio is less than 1% compared to 50-70% in developed countries and 7% in India. Thus, the potential for the expansion of financial services in Afghanistan is substantial.
Clearly, financial institutions have a larger role to play in the economic development of Afghanistan. The overwhelming demand for infrastructure – roads, urban facilities, power, health care, education – suggests that Afghanistan must become proficient in the use of public-private partnerships and other large-scale project financing mechanisms; the absence of capital markets for corporate paper, bonds, and equities; the lack of robust housing finance with its attendant facilities such as appraisal, credit reporting, mortgage insurance, and home owners’ insurance; the inability to engage international capital markets; the absence of a sophisticated derivatives market to complement the evolving mining, petroleum, and agricultural sectors; and other weaknesses suggest that the Institute should be a valuable resource to Afghanistan in the development of sophisticated financial capacity as well as thought leadership on the issue of how Afghanistan’s financial sector should develop.
Where is Afghanistan Institute of Banking and Finance (AIBF)