This paper describes the status of financial systems for a number of African countries south of the Sahara, identifying various problems that hinder access to finance, especially for the poor, and subsequently those issues that deter economic performance and development. The countries surveyed were selected on the basis of a range of criteria including: geographical spread, economic size and development, level of financial market development and availability of information. Although Angola, Botswana, Gabon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa are the focus countries of this survey, many of the scenarios presented in this paper are applicable to other African countries south of the Sahara. Broad policy measures to tackle the bottlenecks that currently undermine financial systems' responsiveness to the needs of the real economic sector are recommended.
The broad structure of this paper is as follows. Section two discusses the nature of financial intermediation in Sub-Saharan countries, while section three presents the financial intermediation challenges that these and other African countries face, in both macro and micro terms. Section four proposes possible policy interventions and ongoing developments in financial intermediation and section five concludes by drawing attention to the key challenges to financial intermediation in Sub-Saharan countries and to the essential prerequisites for successful programmes to respond to these challenges.