Buhari, Kagame and Osinbajo seek a united and inclusive financial system | The Guardian Nigeria News

• As bankers deliberate on economic recovery
• CBN will unveil the Nigerian International Financial Center in 12 months

President Muhammadu Buhari, his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame; Yesterday Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu pleaded for a financial system that works for everyone.

Speaking at the 14th Annual Banking and Finance Conference held simultaneously in Abuja and Lagos, political leaders urged bankers to seize the opportunity of the emerging digital economy to build a financial system inclusive, united and sustainable.

Buhari, who logged on to the session where around 10,000 hybrid attendees gathered to deliberate on the crucial task of pulling the economy out of the clutches of COVID-19 from the State House, said COVID-19 has changed. all around us ”while creating new business opportunities, especially in the digital space.

“Digital evolution is a watchword for survival. We must exploit all the opportunities, but also be aware of the risks, ”the president said, highlighting the enormous opportunities of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which he instructed Nigerian banks to take advantage of. building a resilient economy.

Kagame, who also joined Kigali, instructed financial institutions to seek voice on the most difficult issues facing Africa and to help build a continent that works for all.

“The banking sector must understand its role in building a resilient economy as we look forward to working together to build an Africa that works for all,” advised the Rwandan president.

Strongly, he called for the aggressive pursuit of an inclusive financial system, saying banking services should not be reserved for the elite in the face of growing poverty.

Corroborating Kagame’s position, Osinbajo called on banks to continue playing an active role in the campaign for poverty reduction and job creation. He stressed that the housing sector was a bastion for reducing unemployment and increasing production, but expressed concern that the sector had not received enough attention in terms of financing.

He advocated for developing a long-term financing deal that could unlock the potential of the infrastructure and industry sector. According to him, the federal government’s rural electrification project represents a golden opportunity for Nigerian banks.

Osinbajo admitted that the banking sector has supported the country’s economy in a number of ways, including “creating well-paying jobs”, but insisted it must do more to support the next phase of growth.

He also called on banks to work with government to deepen financial literacy while introducing innovative products to increase inclusiveness.

The vice president noted that the sector has a crucial role in the country’s economic recovery, which Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele called “fragile” despite the impressive performance of gross domestic product ( GDP) of the second quarter.

Emefiele, the conference host, said efforts must be made to prevent the resurgence of COVID-19 in order to maintain the growth momentum, as evidenced by the 5.01% growth recorded in the second quarter. He noted that Nigerian banks were strong and resilient enough to support the process of economic recovery.

He revealed that the CBN will establish, over the next 12 months, the Nigerian International Financial Center (NIFC), which will act as an international gateway for capital and investment, using payment system technology and infrastructure. .

“This new financial center will organize local and international banks to make them world champions. The NIFC will be a 24/7 financial center that will complement the financial centers of London, New York and Singapore and allow an acceleration of our local initiatives such as Infracorp Plc, the N15 trillion infrastructure fund that we will launch. in October 2021.

“The NIFC will also complement our initiatives on the Nigeria Commodity Exchange and National Theater Creative Centers for Our Youth, as well as the e-naira project, which will also debut in October 2021. The NIFC will leverage our existing laws such as BOFIA 2020, NEPZA and other CBN regulations to create a fully global investment and financial hub where money, ideas and technology will flow freely without hindrance.

Despite the growth of the sector, Emefiele said, nearly 36% of adult Nigerians do not have access to financial services. He noted that “improving access to finance for individuals and businesses through digital channels can help improve financial inclusion, lower transaction costs and increase the flow of credit to businesses. “.

Also speaking, Sanwo-Olu said that nothing less than the financial intervention that followed World War II was good enough to deal with the impacts of COVID-19. He instructed banks to create financial products and mechanisms focused on vulnerable people.


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Don F. Davis