President Muhammadu Buhari has extoled Ecobanks SME initiatives targeted at promoting financial inclusion in Nigeria, stressing that it is in line with the government’s diversification agenda.
Speaking with the Board of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) in a visit to the State House, Abuja, Buhari explained that the Pan-Africa bank’s support for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and agriculture will generate economic activities across the country.
The President who was recently sworn-in for his second term in office, advised the bank to institute a special fund to grow agriculture, which will cement its legacy as a bank that helped to transform and boost regional economic activities.
He stressed that his administration remains committed to the goals of securing the country, inclusive economic growth, and fighting corruption, adding that Nigeria was in a unique position as the most populous and resource-rich nation on the African continent and that the resources would be harnessed and properly managed, to engender a prosperous and peaceful country.
“If assets and resources available to Nigeria were properly managed, she would be prosperous and peaceful. But the poverty and insecurity we are experiencing today are results of decades of neglect and resource mismanagement,” he said.Chairman of ETI, Emmanuel Ikazoboh, who was accompanied by the Group Chief Executive Officer, Ade Ayeyemi, the Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan and other ETI executives, stated that the bank was giving high priority to the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sub-sector.
“We have improved the capital of Ecobank in Nigeria. In the last six months, we have brought in about $150 million to drive borrowings and support SMEs,” he said.Speaking to journalists on the challenges, which they want the President to intervene, he said: “We told him some of the challenges Nigeria and Africa are facing. If Nigeria is sorted out, Africa is sorted out and some of these challenges are infrastructure, of which they are working on assiduously.
“Also we are talking about the Seme road because of West African trade route, which we think should be given some priority.”
And to thank him also for the steps he is taking to clear the Apapa Ports because that is where trade comes into Nigeria.“The major problem confronting banks today are the debtors. We have a number of corporate and individual debtors, and we need to put in place a framework to ensure that people do not just take loan and not pay pack. Banks are under pressure because if there are a lot of unpaid loans, it means you don’t have enough money to also support other borrowings or other small and medium enterprises.”
Ikazoboh explained that the they visited to “congratulate the President on his re-election and wish him God’s guidance and spiritual protection to continue to lead this nation because we believe that he has the interest of the country at heart and if Nigeria succeeds, Africa has succeeded and being the leader of Nigeria, he is the leader of Africa. Since we are the Pan-African bank, we needed to come and see the leader of Africa.”
He added that the Ecobank Group “with a larger African footprint than any other bank in the world operating in West, Central, East and Southern Africa is the only bank that spans 36 African countries, but operates a truly integrated African network.That is one unified integrated Ecobank Mobile Banking App, that works seamlessly across all 33 operating countries in Africa; One Ecobank Omni and Omnilite serving multinationals and SMEs in Africa and one Rapidtransfer app that breaks down country borders and allows the diaspora community send money directly to their loved ones, instantly and affordably across Africa.
Others, he explained, are one Ecobank Online Banking platform that you can access easily whether you are in Abuja or Kinshasha; Ecobank’s unique and largest Pan-African platform is designed to help unlock the opportunities of the continent, for the continent, through standardisation, fuelling regional integration, and trade and investment across borders.”
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