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Emefiele: CBN Will Not Rest Until Nigeria Achieves Sustainable Growth

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Godwin Emefiele CBN - Investors King
  • Emefiele: CBN Will Not Rest Until Nigeria Achieves Sustainable Growth

Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele has assured Nigerians that the central bank will continue to implement policies that would help the economy attain sustainable growth. Emefiele, who said this while receiving the Forbes’ 2017 ‘Best of Africa Achievement’ award in Washington D.C., also urged global investors to come and invest in Nigeria. Kunle Aderinokun, Chika Amanze-Nwachuku, Obinna Chima and Nume Ekeghe present the excerpts:

Recalling the Turbulent Times

I want to thank Forbes for finding me worthy of receiving this award on behalf of the Central Bank of Nigeria tagged: “Best of Africa”. But I think what is most important here is to thank Nigerians for standing with us particularly during the very difficult times. I say difficult times then, although I make bold now to say we are out of it.

Like you all know, the last three years have been tumultuous not just for Nigeria, but the global economy, arising largely from the external shocks that hit, particularly the commodity exporting countries.

The shocks no doubt led to the plummeting of Nigeria’s reserves as crude oil price fail to a point where it dropped by February 2016 to as low as $28 per barrel. If you compare this price to the time when it averaged $100 per barrel for five straight years from 2009 to middle of 2014, you will all agree with me that we have gone through a lot.

Another shock that hit Nigeria like other countries was the United States normalisation to the point that in the last quarter of 2016, about $40 billion left emerging and frontier markets back to US.

Geo-political tensions also affected flow of funds, including Nigeria and these climaxed when we recorded negative growth. It also got to a point in the third quarter of 2016, where we got negative 2.3 per cent. We also saw inflation hitting us badly. By January 2016, inflation was just nine per cent, but by January 2017, prices have gone up and inflation had hit us up to 18 per cent and Nigerians no doubt became uncomfortable.

We, at monetary policy committee, felt that at this level, something needed to be done. In a study at CBN, we came to a conclusion that at the level it would be difficult to stimulate growth. So we decided to take inflation head on. We are happy today that we are doing about 16 per cent now and will be tamed with other policies in place.

It is also important to talk about what happened to our reserves. By June 2014, Nigeria’s reserves stood at about $37 billion. As a result of the shock, by October 2016, with all the measures we have taken, it dropped to about $23 billion. We felt that having taken all the measures so far -currency adjustments three times, from N155 to N168 to N197 and above N200- and February this year, a section of the market hit N525- we said something had to be done. But I am happy today that we are here. We also want to thank our friends, who have shown confidence in us. The foreign investor community has also been very supportive. We took some of the decisions that they didn’t like, but I know that we have taken one this time around that excited them. The opening of the investors and exporters fx window has been particularly exciting to them.

Where We are Today

And I must say that in six months, we have seen about $10 billion in inflows into Nigeria as a result of the opening of that window. We feel so grateful to them for showing the confidence in Nigeria again. But I think all this also is because President Muhammadu Buhari has always said that: we had unfortunately been hit by this exogenous shock and it had resulted in inflation and plummeting in reserves, but that we needed at some point to look at the items Nigeria imports into the country.

Nigeria is a big market, no doubt, 180 million people growing at an average population rate of three per cent annually. It is certainly a big market. But then, it is important to cast our mind back and begin to ask ourselves: There was a time in Nigeria when we produced everything we were eating. We were producing rice, palm oil etc. Nigeria was the highest producer and exporter of palm oil in the world with over 40 per cent market share sometimes in the 60s and 70s. But unfortunately because we found oil, we decided to take things easy. What we are saying is that: the President said we had tested this before, we had done it before, it is not about re-inventing it again.

Still on the 41 Items

Our climate is good, let us fold our sleeves and begin to feed ourselves again, and save our reserves for some of those items that we cannot produce as a country. And that has led to where we are today. We are delighted we put forex restriction on 41 items. We were castigated and I was reading in the Economist magazine that what we did was to just move around the home and pick items including toothpicks. I think it is important to know what we are doing. If you go to China, where they are producing the toothpicks, those things can be produced in a place that is less than a quarter of a room. How much does it involve to invest in the equipment that is used in producing toothpicks. We were importing toothpicks. Bamboo is what is used in producing toothpicks. And there is a company in Nigeria today, where people come out of school and are now producing toothpicks, creating jobs for our people. That is what is found in the spirit of Nigerians. A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a toothpick that is being produced by a Nigerian. That toothpick is stronger than the one that is being imported from China. But I think as far as we are concerned, it is about creating jobs for our people. Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava. We were importing starch and glucose. Nigerian companies that could produce starch and glucose would go to companies that needed starch and glucose and all the companies were telling them was our stock levels are high. They said they would visit them when their stock levels go low. But unfortunately, their stock level did not go low until we imposed the forex restriction on these items. Their stock level went low and they started to now patronise Nigerian companies that were producing starch and glucose. Today, companies that require starch and glucose for their pharmaceuticals and formulations patronise Nigerians. This has created jobs for us. That is the spirit of Nigerians. This is part of the reasons the President said we needed to patronise Made-in-Nigeria and I am happy that we are doing this. But I think it is also important that we thank everybody, particularly Nigerians.

Exiting Recession

Yes, we have just managed to exit the recession with a fragile growth of 0.5 per cent; we have seen inflation trending downwards, we have seen exchange rate and reserves looking stronger and firmer. But I think we are determined to continue to push further to see to it that Nigeria returns to its historical growth path. 0.5 per cent or two per cent is not the historical growth path for Nigeria. Nigeria is a country that must grow at a rate that is at least twice the population growth rate (six per cent or seven per cent). And until we achieve that, we are not going to rest on our oars. To see that Nigerians are happy again and that we grow the country. God has bestowed us as leaders; he has given us the opportunity to serve our people. God has put these in our hands and we do owe them the responsibility to ensure that we put policies in place that will make Nigeria good for everybody. We want to continue to join hands with our friends in the foreign investment community to do that.

Nigeria Ripe for Investment

Nigeria has a lot of potential. The environment is good, the climate is good. Nigerians are hospitable and good people. That is why we make bold to say Nigeria is good for business. There are very big countries in the world you will visit today and say you want to invest. The returns are not as high as you have in Nigeria. We want to invite you and that for me is the message we have here today. Come to Nigeria, Nigerians will receive you. Come to Nigeria, you will be happy in Nigeria. We are battling with unemployment in Nigeria, and that is the reason again the President called on the Federal Ministry of Agric, CBN, Minister of Employment, Labour and Productivity, and some important stakeholders including the governors together and said there is a need to start thinking about how we can create jobs for our people through agriculture; that agric should not be seen as business that is meant for the poor, that you can make money from agriculture. Countries that have progressed have done so because they took the agric sector very seriously. We are determined to make agric the sector where people make money and we have decided to put in place the Anchor Borrowers Programme. Before we introduced the ABP, farmers go to farm rice and all the yield they were getting was one to 1.5 metric tonnes per hectare. After we started the ABP, today we are beginning to see farmers getting yield as high as eight metric tonnes per hectare, reducing their costs and making it possible to make their money in rice cultivation. We have seen that there is a need for us to think about how we improve the wealth of our rural community. We started that journey and through rice, we have achieved that. The Nigerian government is confident that through agriculture, the wealth of our people can be boosted. And that is the journey we are on. We want to invite all of you, our friends and foreign investor friends; I heard the President of the Corporate Council for Africa talked about the fact that there are foreign investors that are interested in agriculture in Nigeria. We welcome you. Come, Nigeria will receive you.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Finance

With Giants Campaign, FirstBank is Truly Woven Into The Fabric of Society

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Olusegun-Alebiosu-MD,CEO Firstbank

In its usual creative conjecture, 13O-year-old FirstBank, has hit the airwaves and other media outlets with various visuals to articulate its new campaign ‘The Giant in You’. Breaking down the central message, ‘there is a giant in you’ the campaign stylishly reminds the bank customer that ‘FirstBank Puts You First so you can’ before giving the match order, ‘Live the Giant-Life.

For a bank that settles for the big ‘elephant’, as logo and has remained strong for 130 years, worlds like giant, tall and strides, used in the various visuals are simply validations of its robustness, endurance, doggedness and tall ambition. As part of the ways to convey the bank’s message to its array of patrons, SO&U, the creative agency behind the campaign cleverly selected its cast and buildings, including FirstBank’s corporate headquarters, to reflect the bigness, the tallness and the boldness of the 130-year-old financial institution to rule the world as far as banking and business support are concerned.

Unraveling the ‘Giant’ strides…

Among other reasons, the new campaign must have been conceptualized to position FirstBank as a ‘giant’ and ‘future-ready’ institution that is dependable, innovative and proactive in supporting its customers and stakeholders win in the race to the future and be in a position to take advantage of the opportunities and possibilities of that emerging future.

Driven by the conviction that  consumers want to turn their big dreams into giant successes, the new campaign reminds the consumer that in today’s world of constant disruptions and integrated experiences, the customer needs a strong, stable and supportive partner, with the appropriate platforms, innovative solutions and networks to not only support their aspirations but also be responsive and adaptive enough to anticipate their needs and empower them to success.

Looking through the visuals and the television commercial, it’s easy to conclude that the campaign narrative is not about the brand but the customer. For instance, the creative path illustrates the world as it moves and changes at lightning speed, the customer is reminded that just like the world, everything within it is also changing, from economies to businesses and even opportunities.
“We recognise that to be in sync with the world will require a forward thinking and future ready mindset …and we have created the atmosphere, products and services to help our customers,” the bank stated.

To underscore ‘the big idea’ and the ‘bringing out the Giant in you’ theme, key visuals speak to the essence of the campaign and are accompanied with long and straight legs in a demonstrative form to take the purported giant step. Here the messages are passed under the following; ready to take giant strides?, strides into the future, let’s take giant strides together, stand tall, stand out, think giant solutions, among others.

Facts and figures…

Like Coca-Cola, the world number one brand, one other thing that has consistently worked for the FirstBank brand is that the promoters have never, for once allowed complacency to set in. The implication of this is that the bank is not only the oldest, but also one of the most digitally compliant banks.  Currently, First Bank stands tall via First Bank digital solutions, employs market-leading digital platforms and solution driven products and services. Besides, the use of AI and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) by the bank enables the financial brand to initiate 85 percent of its transactions via digital platforms leading to quick responses to customers’ needs and satisfaction. In this regard, FirstBank has been recognised by Interswitch as the first financial institution in Nigeria to achieve 100 million sustained monthly transactions in electronic payment and it has hit N1 trillion transactions through the FirstMonie Agent network.

Speaking during the unveiling of the new thematic brand campaign, Head, Brand and Stakeholder management at FirstBank, Yinka Ijabiyi, reiterated that FirstBank came up with the new campaign because of its belief that there is a ‘giant’ in every customer, every employee and every stakeholder.

He said, “This campaign was informed by our belief that there is ‘giant’ in every stakeholder a giant dream, a giant possibility, a giant idea, a giant life and a giant future waiting to be birthed. Our commitment is therefore to provide all necessary business support, financial know-how and platforms to bring out the giant in every customer.”

Ijabiyi further pointed out that the campaign was conceptualised by the bank in a bid to show customers in its 130 years, that it has been supporting and creating giants and that it has no plan to stop anytime soon.

He said the bank, in its celebration of its 130 years in business, came up with a campaign that speaks to the business essence of its brand which is making giants of its customers.

“We have always done it and the fact we have been around for such a long time means good to everybody as we have been supporting businesses, individuals and government in those years. “We are making giants and there is no business that interacts with us that does not see the benefits in their business. We are making giants in our customers and we will not stop.

“We are the partner with tailored solutions for every customer, employee, and stakeholder. We have what it takes to turn dreams into giant successes. FirstBank’s services are designed to help customers “giant-size” their dreams, offering businesses the platforms and solutions needed to grow, innovate, and achieve remarkable success.” Ijabiyi added that the array of products, solutions and services offered by FirstBank cannot be compared with any financial services in Nigeria.

For its customers, the bank said “We would enable, inspire and support you with our world of financial services to help you to giant-size your dreams and live your best life”. It also said it “would give businesses and business owners the right platforms and solutions they need to grow, initiate and execute bold ideas.

Meanwhile, the creative agency behind the campaign has hinted to the media that the unveiled materials were mere ‘tip of the iceberg’ as efforts are ongoing to domesticate the same campaign in local languages to connect with customers across the major ethnic groups in Nigeria.

A peep into the past…

When the promoters said First Bank was “truly the first, many grudgingly agreed. But deep inside its competitors – the possible grudging camp – is the truth regarding the extreme distance the bank has given others in performance and people relevance of its operations! They knew the bank was not bluffing. Not only has it rediscovered itself, but the ability to shed its ancient mindset in terms of operations and blend with modern trends in banking have left many agreeing that perhaps, the saying that the older the wine the better it gets in taste actually applies to FirstBank. To this end, it’s not by accident that First Bank has produced at least two former governors of the CBN and a Finance Minister, including Chief Joseph Sanusi and the current Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.

Perhaps the current campaign is an offshoot of a story-telling Television Commercial, by the bank to reflect the beginning of modern banking and how the bank has consistently grown with Nigeria’s enterprises through partnership and innovation.

The referenced TVC says it all: A combination of historical renaissance and quite prescient validation of the innovation that usually drives its bewitching communicational ads. From the groundnut pyramids of the north, which was the symbol of the regions commercial edge and the cocoa bean mountains of Western Nigeria to the rubber plantations of the East and Mid-eastern region, First Bank has applied its new campaign to remind its decades-old patrons, customers, and even competitors, that the beat has refused to abate.

Throughout the campaign, FirstBank subtly registers itself in the minds of the banking public that it’s entirely Nigerian – past, present, and the future. The well-crafted historical simulation captures how FirstBank opened its first branch in Lagos in 1894 and started helping merchandise and local traders to grow their businesses. The excitement and enthusiasm on the faces of the bank’s early customers after getting their cash books from the Lagos office say it all. Like someone who has gotten a glimpse of what the future holds with banking, the customers express surprises and happiness. The commercial captures the mood and goes back in memory lane on how the bank has helped many people succeed in their ventures. Subtly, the narrator takes viewers to Kano and reveals how the then richest men in the commercial city were making their deposit of 20 bags of Silver in an atmosphere that looks like the first operational day of the bank.

Perhaps the beauty of the commercial lies more in the way it strikes a balance between the ancient and the modern days through setting and swapping of background colours. This was cleverly explored in referencing the way the bank transformed into an online haven, driven by technology. While reminding the patrons of the bank’s transformation and technological advancement, the narrator is quick to talk about the expansion of the bank beyond the shores of Nigeria to the West-African region and beyond. The TVC also positions FirstBank as a socially responsible brand by touching on various initiatives it has embarked on. Specifically, First Bank’s contribution to Sports through its support for football and athletics is captured very well.

The ‘Giant in You’ is another chapter as the bank begins a fresh journey after operating for 130 years.

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Banking Sector

Jaiz Bank Boosts Chairman’s Income to N24m Amidst Strategic Expansion

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Jaiz Bank

Jaiz Bank has announced a 20% increase in its chairman’s annual income to N24 million.

This decision was unveiled in a recent statement filed with the Nigeria Exchange Limited, highlighting the bank’s commitment to rewarding leadership amidst its expansion plans.

The bank, renowned for its pioneering role in non-interest banking in Nigeria since 2012, also approved a remuneration package of N20 million for each non-executive director.

The announcement was made by the bank’s secretary, Mohammed Shehu, highlighting the importance of competitive compensation for board members who provide crucial oversight and strategic guidance.

Shareholders at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) expressed confidence in the board’s leadership by approving the resolution on directors’ fees.

This move aligns with Jaiz Bank’s ongoing efforts to enhance its capital base to N70 billion by the end of 2024.

The bank also announced a dividend of 4 kobo per share, which will be distributed to shareholders on July 16, 2024.

This dividend declaration was welcomed as a testament to the bank’s operational success in a challenging economic climate.

Also, the AGM saw the re-election of Muhammadu Indimi and Muhammad Abdulmutallab as non-executive directors, reaffirming shareholder trust in their leadership capabilities.

Jaiz Bank’s financial performance has been impressive, with a 67% increase in profit before tax, reaching N11.1 billion in 2023.

Gross earnings also rose by 42% to N47.2 billion from the previous year, showcasing the bank’s successful growth strategy.

As Jaiz Bank continues to expand its services, the enhanced remuneration package signals a commitment to maintaining strong governance and leadership, paving the way for future achievements in ethical banking.

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Finance

ARISE IIP and Africa Finance Corporation Launch US$ 100M Capital Pool for African Entrepreneurs

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ARISE IIP, the pan-African developer and operator of world-class industrial parks, and Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), the leading infrastructure solutions provider in Africa, today announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a dedicated US $100 million capital pool for African entrepreneurs who are establishing operations within any of the Arise IIP Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in Africa. 

At the heart of this partnership is a shared vision to uplift African entrepreneurs by providing them with much needed financing and advisory services to catalyse growth.

AFC will also actively seek financing from Export Credit Agencies (ECAs), local and regional financial institutions to mobilise funding to support these companies.

This concerted effort underscores ARISE IIP and AFC’s commitment to fostering industrialisation, job creation and economic prosperity in Africa.

Under this partnership, AFC’s comprehensive suite of financial services will extend beyond financing to include financial advisory support for corporate finance, equipment financing and market entry including assisting with joint ventures and technical partnerships for sponsors that may require it, to ensure they are well-equipped to seize opportunities and thrive within the SEZs.

By tapping into AFC’s extensive network and expertise, ARISE IIP aims to cultivate a vibrant ecosystem that nurtures entrepreneurship and drives sustainable economic development across the continent.

Gagan Gupta, CEO of ARISE IIP said about this partnership: “ARISE IIP is about empowerment. By empowering our customers, and ensuring they have the robust financial support needed to meet their operational objectives, this collaboration with Africa Finance Corporation, our long-lasting partner, takes us one step closer to realising our vision of an industrialised and prosperous Africa.

Samaila Zubairu, President & CEO of AFC said: This partnership marks a significant milestone in our commitment to offer strategic financial advisory and corporate finance services to firms focused on value capture and import substitution projects in Africa. By collaborating with our investee company Arise IIP and African entrepreneurs in our Special Economic Zones, we aim to foster an ecosystem that will increase trade, create jobs, and drive economic advancement on the continent.

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