The African Development Bank hosted its first virtual business opportunities seminar (BOS) of 2021 on 6 and 7 April.
The BOS seminars offer a one-stop shop for companies, civil contractors, manufacturers, consultants, and suppliers from the Bank Group’s regional and non-regional members seeking to provide goods and services to projects or to the Bank.
Held virtually as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, delegates were informed about the Bank’s strategy for supporting economic growth, its priority areas, rules and procedures for project and corporate procurement, and ongoing public and private sector operations.
During the sessions staff discussed the sectors that offer opportunities for partners and suppliers: climate change; infrastructure, cities and urban development; industries and trade; finance and SMEs; agriculture; health, human capital, youth, and skills development.
“The Bank’s 2021 Business Opportunities Seminar was an impressive learning experience and an open door to interact virtually with different experts and gain insights into best practices and directions for conducting effective business approaches within the Bank,” said David Andrés Rojas Mejía, Senior Business Development Specialist at Catalonia Trade and Investment Promotion Agency.
Private sector partners contributed richly to the discussion, sharing their experience around partnering and contracting with the Bank. They included Kwame Boate, country director of TechnoServe Inc., (Ghana) and Cletus Kayenwee of the Rural Enterprises Program at the Ghanaian Ministry of Trade, who shared their experience contracting with the Bank on Ghana’s “One District One Factory” Enable Youth Program. The program aims to build the entrepreneurial capacity of graduate youth. Participants also heard from Abdelillah Zenjari, Deputy General Director of TEKCIM. He shared his experience partnering and obtaining a loan of €45 million to build a cement factory with a capacity of 1.4 million tons in the region of d’El Jadida in Morocco.
Over the years, the seminars have hosted approximately 2,500 delegates from 55 countries, with an average of 75% of delegates from non-regional member countries and 90% from the private sector.
For the Bank, the seminars increase interest in Bank-financed projects and enhance competition, thereby promoting higher-quality offers that deliver optimal value for money for its regional member countries.
“The sessions have also helped me to understand how to find opportunities for my firm by being better able to navigate your procurement framework and processes,” said Dede Watkin, Business Development Manager at Beale &Co, a participant.
Agusto & Co Forecasts $22B Diaspora Remittances for Nigeria in 2021
The pan-African credit rating agency, Agusto & Co has projected that Nigeria’s diaspora remittances will reach $22 billion by 2021, representing a year-on-year (y-o-y) rise of five percent.
The Lagos-based firm stated this in its “2021 Nigeria Diaspora Remittance Report & Survey,” presented to members of the public.
The report anticipated a further y-o-y rise of two percent in remittances inflow to $22.5 billion by 2022. According to the report, Nigeria’s diaspora remittances dropped by 12 percent to $21 billion in 2020, from about $23.8 billion the prior year.
Head of Research at Agusto Consulting, Mr. Jimi Ogbobine, while speaking during a webinar on the report, explained that the Nigerian diaspora remittances are still an under-researched subject despite its strong bankability credentials.
He said there have been very few target-market studies on diaspora remittances in Nigeria, adding that Agusto Consulting adopted a strategy by initiating research on bankable markets with poor research coverage.
Remittances are funds transferred from migrants to their home country. They represent household income from foreign economies arising mainly from the temporary or permanent movement of people to those economies.
Remittances play important roles in the economy, helping to meet the basic needs of recipients, fund cash and non-cash investments, finance education, foster new businesses, service debts and drive economic growth.
“Previous studies have also shown that about 70 percent of remittances are used for consumption purposes, while 30 percent of remittance funds go to investment-related use,” Ogbobine explained.
He pointed out that Africa’s estimated migrant remittances of $78.3 billion in 2020 represented a modest 12 percent of the global migrant remittances.
“However, only two states within the continent represent about three-fifths of the continent’s entire migrant remittances. Egypt’s diaspora remittances of $24.4 billion in 2020 are not only the largest in Africa but also represent about a third (31.1 percent) of the continent’s entire migrant remittance.
“Nigeria ranks behind Egypt with $21 billion which represents about a quarter of the continent’s global remittances. Morocco driven by its large French diaspora represents about eight percent of the continent‘s remittance inflows with $6.3 billion. Zimbabwe continues to suffer the effects of the dysfunction in its forex regime,” it added.
According to the report, all of Africa’s top seven diaspora recipients experienced dips in remittance inflows in 2020, barring Kenya alone which grew by 2.8 percent. It revealed that Nigeria recorded the worst contractions amongst Africa’s top seven in 2020 of about 11.9 percent.
“Nigeria’s domestic policy conundrum on foreign exchange creating as many challenges to the wider macro contractions caused by the pandemic. Outside Nigeria and Kenya, the other states within the top seven bracket experienced varying degrees of contraction in diaspora remittances of between five percent to 9.4 percent in 2020,” it added.
Diaspora remittances to Africa declined by an estimated 12.5 percent in 2020 to $42 billion, almost entirely due to a 27.7 percent decline to Nigeria, which accounts for over 40 percent of such flows to the region, the World Bank recently disclosed. The Bank, in its latest Migration and Development Brief, revealed that excluding Nigeria, remittance flows to Africa increased by 2.3 percent with a 37 percent growth reported in Zambia, Mozambique (16 percent), Kenya (9 percent) and Ghana (5 percent).
It stated: “Remittances to Sub-Saharan Africa declined by an estimated 12.5 percent in 2020 to $42 billion. The decline was almost entirely due to a 27.7 percent decline in remittance flows to Nigeria, which alone accounted for over 40 percent of remittance flows to the region.
“Excluding Nigeria, remittance flows to Sub-Saharan African increased by 2.3 percent. Remittance growth was reported in Zambia (37 percent), Mozambique (16 percent), Kenya (9 percent) and Ghana (5 percent).”
In 2021, remittance flows to the region are projected to rise by 2.6 percent, supported by improving prospects for growth in high-income countries.
The report noted that data on remittance flows to Sub-Saharan Africa are sparse and of uneven quality, with some countries still using the outdated Fourth IMF Balance of Payments Manual rather than the Sixth, while several other countries do not report data at all.
Giving further insight, the report said: “High-frequency phone surveys in some countries reported decreases in remittances for a large percentage of households even while recorded remittances reported by official sources report increases inflows.
“The shift from informal to formal channels due to the closure of borders explains in part the increase in the volume of remittances recorded by central banks.”
On remittance costs, the report stated that Sub-Saharan Africa remains the most expensive region to send money to, where sending $200 costs an average of 8.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Unity Bank to Extend More Funding to 120,000 Smallholder Maize Farmers
No fewer than 120,000 smallholder maize farmers in Nigeria will benefit from Unity Bank Plc’s funding in the wet season farming.
Its Managing Director, Mrs. Tomi Somefun made the commitment while delivering a goodwill message at the unveiling of the first national maize pyramids and kick off of wet season farming programmes at the weekend in Katsina, Katsina State.
As a major stakeholder in the roll out of the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), Unity Bank was invited to participate in the events marking the unveiling by the Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN).
Represented by Head, Agribusiness, Unity Bank Plc, Mrs. Patricia Ahunanya, Somefun said the additional funding for 2021 wet season farming is in furtherance of the bank’s commitment towards supporting maize farmers in the country.
She noted that the strategic partnership with MAAN commenced in 2019 with the financing of about 37,182 smallholder farmers, with the bank increasing its financing tally to 70,604 smallholder farmers last year.
“The maize pyramids will go down in history as the first maize pyramid in Nigeria which demonstrates not only the resilience of our farmers but also the commendable vision of the Federal Government of Nigeria through the implementing partners. This should be replicated in all states with a focus on the crops that have comparative advantage,” Somefun said.
She noted that with agriculture contributing over 26 per cent to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and employing about 50 per cent of Nigeria’s working population in the rural areas, the bank will continue to make strategic investments into the sector in line with the Federal Government’s quest to attain food sufficiency, diversify the economy away from oil, create jobs for the youth and reduce poverty.
“Unity Bank is fully committed to its partnership with MAAN and this commitment will ensure the attainment of FGN/CBN target to meeting self-sufficiency in maize production through the association,” Somefun said.
President, MAAN, Dr. Abubakar Bello commended Unity Bank for its continued support of the farmers through its strategic role in providing finance to maize farmers.
“We cannot appreciate enough our financing partners, especially Unity Bank. Today, we have over 50,000 bags of maize in this pyramid, which will contribute significantly to Nigeria’s strategic grain reserves. This could not have been possible without the financing made possible by these partners. We commend them for this role and remain grateful,” Bello said.
He reiterated the commitment of the association to continue to meet the financing obligations and sustain the drive for increased maize output in this wet season farming.
Unity Bank had recently received similar commendation from Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) over its strategic role in providing the necessary support to the association to explore the opportunities provided by the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).
RIFAN specifically commended Somefun for her leadership and doggedness in supporting the rice farmers through the ABP, which is playing a critical role in Nigeria’s quest to attain self-sufficiency in rice production.
Polaris Bank Set to Boost Nigerian’s Digital Banking Ecosystem, Unveils a New Digital Bank
With the rising opportunities in the e-payment systems accelerated by the COVID-19 era sweeping across the world, there are indications that one of Nigeria’s leading retail franchise, Polaris Bank, has thrown its hat into the ring as it unveils a new digital Bank.
Feelers indicate that the Bank’s new Digital Bank which has for some time been in test mode amongst its staff and customers is set to grow its market share, targeting a new generation of digital natives and immigrants who are socially and financially aware of innovations in self-service and stress-free transactions. According to industry players, the long wait which greeted the launch was to ensure that the platform is robust enough to meet prevailing global standards and support other existing entities in the digital banking ecosystem.
As part of its enterprise transformation initiatives, the Bank has overhauled its IT infrastructure within the last two years and upgraded its digital capability. According to the Bank’s Managing Director/CEO, Innocent Ike, “this has seen the institution grow to earn the confidence of the banking publics, as it has been able to offer quality banking services at the cutting edge of technology.” The plaudits which greeted the Bank’s recently published 2020 financial performance, has further earned the Bank’s digital transformation efforts, a shot in the arm.
Polaris’ digital Bank, offers a suite of services not readily provided by competitors. Some of such bundled benefits include; access to instant loans, accessing the platform service without being a prior customer of the Bank, and end-to-end account opening without entering a physical bank.
One of the competitive benefits of the Bank is its creation of a collaborative ecosystem that enables Application Programming Interface (API) Banking. API banking refers to a system that makes a bank’s services available to other third-party companies via APIs. API Banking helps both banks and third-party companies augment their complementary specialties and offerings more than they can provide to their customers by themselves.
Through its API, Polaris Bank is reported to have so far onboarded new business start-ups, improved their market access, and ensured profit sharing with partners within the financial technology space. The Agro-businesses, educational institutions, e-commerce, are all set to benefit from the Bank’s platform.
According to recent data released by the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS), the volume of electronic payment transactions increased by 80 percent year-on-year to 54.07 billion in the first quarter of 2021 from 30.04 billion in the same period of last year.
As a result of the rise in e-payment transactions, income generated by banks via electronic channel transactions also increased by around 52 percent to N53.4 billion in the period under review compared with N35.2 billion in the same period of last year.
With the grand entry of Polaris Bank into the digital Banking space, it is expected that at the close of 2021, the 2020 NIBSS figures will grow exponentially and bolster the overall performance of the country’s e-payment ecosystem. Indeed, many youngsters and digital native enterprises constitute most of the population and the early adopters of digital innovation and lifestyle.
Polaris Bank is a future-determining bank committed to delivering industry-defining products, services, and digital platforms across all the sectors of the Nigerian economy. The Bank is a member of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), which seeks to engage the private sector and the global financial sector to help create a financial sector that serves people and the planet while delivering positive impact.
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