Ecobank lauded over financial inclusion scheme
By Nsikan Ikpe
President Muhammadu Buhari has commended Ecobank for its various initiatives targeted at promoting financial inclusion in the country, noting that it is key to the government’s diversification agenda.
Buhari spoke when he received in audience recently the Board of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) in his office at the State House, Abuja.
According to President Buhari, the pan Africa bank’s support for agriculture and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sectors will generate economic activities across the country.
He urged the bank to institute a special fund to develop agriculture, which will cement its legacy as a bank that helped to transform and boost regional economic activities.
President Buhari equally stressed that his administration remains committed to the goals of securing the country, inclusive economic growth, and fighting corruption.
According to him, Nigeria was in a unique position as the most populous and resource-rich nation on the African continent, adding that the nation’s resources would be harnessed and properly managed, to engender a prosperous and peaceful country.
He said: “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”.
The bank’s chairman, Ikazoboh who had in his delegation, the Group Chief Executive Officer, ETI, Ade Ayeyemi and Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan, stated that the Bank was according high priority to the SME sub sector, disclosing that “we’ve improved the capital of Ecobank in Nigeria. In the last six months, we have brought in about $150 million all to drive borrowings and supporting the small and medium enterprises.”
Speaking to State House Correspondents on the challenges they want the President to intervene in , the bank chief said: “Well in our speech, we have told him some of the challenges Nigeria and Africa are facing. Like I said earlier on, 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 Port because that is the main artery today from where trade comes into Nigeria.”
The bank chief added: “The major problem confronting the banks today are the debtors. We have a number of debtors both corporate and individuals, 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 you have a lot of unpaid loans, it means you don’t have enough money to also support other borrowings or other small and medium enterprises.”
The Ecobank Group Chairman explained that the purpose of their visit was to “congratulate the President on his re-election and to 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.”
Ikazoboh disclosed 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 all Multinationals and SMEs in Africa; 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; 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 standardization, fueling regional integration, and trade and investment across borders”
that Further he said due to Ecobank’s sterling performance, it has been severally recognized as Best Digital Bank in Africa – 2017 by Euromoney Awards; Best Retail Bank and Innovation in Banking both in 2018 by the African Banker Awards.