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Afreximbank President discusses plans to fund industrialisation goals on the continent

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On the latest Marketplace Africa, Afreximbank President Benedict Okey Oramah speaks to CNN’s Eleni Giokos about how the bank plans to help fund the continent’s industrialisation goals.



Oramah says that Africa “should be a banker’s paradise”, but that it isn’t, “because of two things. The banks that are supposed to exploit this opportunity are not controlled by Africans. That is one. And because they’re not controlled by Africans, they don’t understand the risks in Africa.”


One of the big problems facing the continent is cross-border payments. Oramah explains, “That is the issue. We have 42 currencies. So, 42 payment systems so to say. So, they don’t talk to each other. So, if I want to do something with another person, they are just across the border, I have to go to different places, spend so much money, it takes so long.”

The African Continental Free Trade Area is one of the solutions to problems of trading across borders. The Afreximbank President says the agreement will be a positive for the continent, “Very optimistic. Because the problem of Africa is the colonial legacy of fragmentation. If we resolve it in Africa, we explode.”


Oramah speaks about the ways in which Africa can unlock its financial potential, “We must find things that open up the continent’s value chain in a way that brings efficiency so that each part of the continent will specialise in what they know how to do best. Because although we have a continent of so many people, there are some parts of the continent that actually lack labor. And there are some that are busting out the seams with labor. We need to really believe we are one people and stop looking at ourselves as small countries. Because it’s not getting us anywhere.”



Looking to the future, Oramah speaks about the bank’s targets, “I believe that in less than six years we would double the size of the bank to $60 billion. All the ingredients are there. We understand the market. People understand us, as shareholders, trust us. They always come when we ask for capital. So, I believe that the stage is set for the continent to use Afreximbank to begin to turn things around.”


See more from Marketplace Africa:

https://edition.cnn.com/business/marketplace-africa

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The Alternative Bank Debuts with Spectacular Multi-City Launch

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L-R: Chairman, The Alternative Bank, MUHTAR BAKARE; Executive Chairman Stratevium Nigeria LTD, DR. PRISCA NDU; Head of Product Omnibiz, ZAINAB ARILESERE and CEO, The Alternative Bank:, HASSAN YUSUF during the launch of The Alternative Bank in Lagos recently.


The Alternative Bank, Nigeria’s newest entrant into the financial services sector, launched in spectacular fashion by holding simultaneous launch events in three major cities across the country – Lagos, Abuja, and Kano, making it the first synchronized multi-city brand launch in Nigeria’s history. The Alternative Bank is the ethical banking subsidiary of Sterling Financial Holdings.
Speaking from Lagos, Managing Director of The Alternative Bank, Hassan Yusuf, said, “We believe that banking should be a platform for shared prosperity, where everyone benefits. And this explains why we refer to our customers as partners, because we believe we are on a journey of wealth creation where profits are shared, and customers are provided with funds without incurring interest charges.”
Speaking at the launch event in Abuja, Executive Director of The Alternative Bank, Garba Mohammed, said “The Alternative Bank is here to create wealth-for-all in a sustainable way, by doing things differently and taking a different model to partnering with its customers.”
The launch events featured the presentation of digital products to attendees, designed to bring more people into the formal financial sector with an albeit unconventional approach to e-commerce, investments, assets financing, and renewable energy with solutions such as AltMall for e-commerce, AltInvest for ethical retail investments, AltPower for affordable renewable energy solutions, AltDrive for new and pre-owned vehicle financing, and WasteBanc for the monetization recyclable waste.
In recognition of the unique financial needs of individuals and businesses, The Alternative Bank offers personalized financial consultations, tailored solutions, and one-on-one guidance towards ensuring that customers achieve their financial goals. The zero-interest banking principle is dedicated to fostering sustainable practices, responsible investments and financial decisions that contribute to positive social and environmental impacts.
The Alternative Bank also recently launched an innovation in retail investments with the first AltCoin which affords investors the opportunity to preserve and grow their wealth by investing in gold.
The Alternative Bank started in 2014 as Sterling Alternative Finance, after the Central Bank of Nigeria licensed then Sterling Bank Plc to operate a non-interest banking business and has since grown to become one of the largest ethical banks in Nigeria’s non-interest banking sector.
With the recent completion of Sterling’s transition to a full-fledged financial holdings company, The Alternative Bank will operate as the non-interest banking subsidiary of the Group, while Sterling Bank Limited will continue to provide conventional banking services.

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UBA To Empower KDs, SMEs On Wealth Management

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Africa’s Global Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, is set to organise another edition of the UBA Business Series. This is in line with the bank’s commitment to support the growth of micro, small, and medium-scale enterprises by equipping them with the requisite tools to strengthen and sustain their businesses.

The UBA Business Series is a regular seminar/workshop organised by the bank as one of its capacity-building initiatives, where leading business leaders and professionals share well-researched insights on relevant topics and best practices for running successful businesses, especially in the face of difficult business challenges.

This edition, which is powered by the UBA Value Chain Banking, will look at the topic ‘Personal Finance: Wealth Management in Today’s Economy’ and is specifically targeted at key distributors and small and medium-sized business owners. It will be held on Thursday, October 12, 2023, from 12 p.m. at the Tony Elumelu Amphitheatre, UBA House, Marina, Lagos, whilst online participants can also access the session on Zoom via https://bit.ly/UBABIZSERIES

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The CEO and Executive Editor, of Frontier Africa Reports and eminent television host, Boason Omofaye; Managing Director/CEO, of United Capital Asset Management Plc, Odiri Oginni CFA and Recording Artist and CEO/Founder of Mova Networks, Akitoye ‘Ajebutter22’ Balogun, will be on the ground to give helpful tips on wealth management in today’s economy to business leaders. They will also provide guides on the best ways to take businesses to the next level in challenging economic terrain.

UBA’s Head, SME Banking, Babatunde Ajayi said:

“The vast knowledge and experience of the panellists, will help business owners understand the importance of personal finance, wealth management, and most importantly how to navigate the frailties of the harsh economy to ensure business growth.”

“We know small businesses are the backbone of the economy in every country that is why at UBA, we constantly look for ways of ensuring that these business owners and operators are well-equipped to grow their businesses successfully.”

Recently, UBA announced an initiative aimed at providing robust and comprehensive financing solutions to support and boost the activities of SMEs across the African continent, where SMEs will have the opportunity to access financing in the key sectors of Agro-processing, Pharmaceuticals, Automotive, and Transport and Logistics.

The financing initiative is powered by UBA’s recent partnership with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) secretariat to provide financing for up to $6 billion over the next three years to eligible SMEs across Africa, an agreement which was signed on the sidelines of the 30th Afreximbank Annual Meeting (AAM) which was held in Accra, Ghana earlier in the year.

UBA is a leading pan-African financial institution, offering banking services to more than thirty-seven million customers across 1,000 business offices and customer touch points in 20 African countries.

With a presence in New York, London, Paris, the Cayman Islands, and now the UAE, UBA is connecting people and businesses across Africa through retail, commercial, and corporate banking, innovative cross-border payments and remittances, trade finance, and ancillary banking services.

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GTBANK Wallows In More Troubles Of Over N1.27tn Intervention Funds

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Even as the bank is yet to clear itself from the financial skirmish it’s Managing Director was enmeshed in penultimate week, Gtbank may also be probed during the ongoing investigation of the activities of the Central Bank of Nigeria, according to findings by our correspondent.

It was learnt that Gtbank’s CEO would be invited in an effort to ascertain any discrepancies around the management of intervention funds by deposit money banks.

The media had earlier reported that the Central Bank of Nigeria may be asked to withdraw its audited annual financial reports, which were recently released.

This came after a team investigating the apex bank discovered discrepancies and irregularities in the financial accounts.

The report has it that in August, the CBN released its financial accounts for the years 2016 to 2022 amid an ongoing probe of the financial services sector regulator by a Special Investigator appointed by President Bola Tinubu.

Tinubu had on July 28 appointed a former Chief Executive Officer of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, Jim Obazee, as Special Investigator to probe the activities of the apex bank under its suspended governor, Godwin Emefiele.

Aside from the CBN, the special investigator is also investigating the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited, FRC, and other Government Business Entities.

The President, in the letter which he personally signed, said the move was in continuation of the government’s anti-corruption fight.

The letter, dated July 28, 2023, read, “In accordance with the fundamental objectives set forth in Section 15(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), this administration is, today, continuing the fight against corruption by appointing you as a Special Investigator, to investigate the CBN and Related Entities. This appointment shall be with immediate effect and you are to report directly to my office.

“The full terms of your engagement as Special Investigator shall be communicated to you in due course but require that you immediately take steps to ensure the strengthening and probity of key Government Business Entities, further block leakages in CBN and related GBEs and provide a comprehensive report on public wealth currently in the hands of corrupt individuals and establishments (whether private or public).

“You are to investigate the CBN and related entities using a suitably experienced, competent and capable team and work with relevant security and anti-corruption agencies to deliver on this assignment. I shall expect a weekly briefing on the progress being made.”

The President also attached a copy of his directive suspending Godwin Emefiele as Governor of the CBN on June 9, 2023.

According to findings by our correspondent, the CBN Special Investigator is working with a team of accountants, auditors, and forensic accountants to carry out the investigation.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, George Akume, recently said the Federal Government will soon unveil the audit report of the probe of the CBN.

The SGF said that the probe report of the CBN when made public, would reveal how poor governance brought the country to the present predicament. According to him, the report will enable Nigerians to know what really went wrong and how the country got to its present situation.

He said, “Most of these problems confronting us are due to bad governance. The present government has confronted and is confronting these challenges. When President Bola Tinubu came on board, he took a very sound decision at the CBN. That singular act led to a massive improvement in the capital market, as experts have told us, it is something that has never happened in the past 15 years.

“We have a new team at the CBN and a special investigator has been in the CBN for some time now and his result will soon be released and Nigerians will know what really went wrong and what brought us to where we are today.”

Also, findings by journalists revealed that Obazee had submitted an interim report to the President’s office.

Multiple officials said the preliminary report was submitted for necessary action by the President.

“The CBN Special Investigator submitted a preliminary report to the President’s Office over a week ago. The investigation still continues but the preliminary report is meant to give the President an idea of what has been discovered so far,” a top official privy to the development told reporters on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter.

It was learnt that the interim report would enable the president to make some key decisions that would help the country move forward.

Officials said the interim report led to the change of leadership at the CBN.

The president and his team are said to be currently reviewing the report with a view to taking an appropriate decision on it soon.

N1.27tn intervention funds

According to a top official, who spoke with journalists on the condition of anonymity, some top bank officials will be invited as the investigations proceed over undisbursed intervention funds.

Findings by our correspondent showed that a whopping sum of N1.27tn intervention funds sit in Gtco.

The intervention funds cover lending facilities provided by the CBN through local banks, and the facilities include Accelerated Agriculture Development Scheme, Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme, Healthcare Sector Intervention Facility, and Paddy Aggregation Scheme.

They also include Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises Development Fund, Real Sector Support Facility, 100 for 100 Policy on Production and Productivity, Export Facilitation Initiative, and the Creative Industry Financing Initiative.

Findings by our reporter showed that there was at least N530.07bn worth of intervention funds in another bank.

This included about N3.56bn under the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme, N1.57bn to facilitate the rapid rollout of agent networks across Nigeria supporting the expansion of a shared Agent Network, N58.84bn under the salary bailout fund, N99.04bn outstanding balance on the excess crude account loans, N9.34bn for the Real Sector Support Facility, N1.14bn for the Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme.

It also included N955.61m for the Creative Industry Financing Initiative, N8.62bn for the Non-Oil Export Stimulation Facility, and N17.64bn for the Health Sector Intervention Facility, among others.

Our correspondent also learnt that at least N310.52bn of the intervention funds sit in another bank.

It included N80.65bn state bailout fund, N190.06bn Real Sector Support Facility – Differentiated Cash Reserves Requirement, N7.28bn Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme, N2.5bn Paddy Aggregation Scheme, and N6.36bn 100 for 100 PPP.

The information further observed that about N288.42bn.

It included N23.54bn Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme Loan, N1.86bn Power & Aviation Intervention Fund, N125.14bn salary bailout fund, N71.53bn Excess Crude Loan Facility, N28.73bn Real Sector Support Facility and N9.13bn Non-Oil Export Stimulation Facility.

Newsjauts Online also observed that there was about N115.09bn in GT Bank and N25.16bn in another renowned bank.

The new Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Olayemi Cardoso, during his screening at the Senate, stated that there is a need to pull the apex bank from direct development finance interventions to refocus the priorities of the bank.

According to the new governor of the apex bank, the bank needs to move into a limited advisory role that supports economic growth rather than actively play a prominent role in the financing of these projects.

He emphasised the need to restore the apex bank’s independence and credibility by refocusing on its core mandate and ensuring a culture of compliance.

“Much has been made of past CBN forays into development financing such that the lines between monetary policy and fiscal intervention have become blurred.

“In refocusing the CBN to its core mandate, there is a need to pull the CBN back from direct development finance interventions into more limited advisory roles that support economic growth,” he said.

In 2015, the former governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, stated that the bank had over the years been involved in the financing of growth-enhancing programmes and projects of the Federal Government.

He stated that these involvements are incidental to the bank’s core mandates and part of its development and corporate social responsibilities, to accelerate growth and development of the country’s economy.

As of October 2022, about N9tn had been released as intervention funds by the apex bank.

The bank had said that about N3.7tn had been repaid by beneficiaries while over N5tn was not yet due for recovery.

The media observed that the agricultural sector has been the major beneficiary of the intervention funds, especially through the Anchor Borrower Fund and the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme.

Gtbank leads other banks that have about N208.33bn undisbursed funds from the CBN for the Anchor Borrower Fund and the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme at little interest rates.

According to the first half financial statements released to the Nigerian Exchange Limited,  Guaranty Trust Holding Company and others had N114.10bn of the Anchor Borrowers Fund still in its coffers.

The Anchor Borrowers’ Programme was established by the CBN in line with its developmental function. It was launched by former president Muhammadu Buhari on November 17, 2015, to create a link between anchor companies involved in the processing and smallholder farmers of key agricultural commodities.

The CACS is a scheme powered by the CBN in collaboration with the Federal Government represented by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development with the aim of providing concessionary funding for agriculture so as to promote commercial agricultural enterprises in Nigeria.

So far, there have been controversies about the beneficiaries and repayments of the ABP fund.

Stakeholders in the economy also have to deal with a high cost of financing, which has been affecting production and expansion plans in some sectors of the economy.

According to the financial reports of Gtbank, the lender still had N75.35bn of the Anchor Borrowers Fund as of June 2023 (December 2022: N78.42bn), which shows that only N3.06bn had been disbursed in six months. The bank revealed that the tenor of the facility depends on the gestation period of the targeted commodity but will not exceed two years. The facility is disbursed at an all-inclusive interest rate of nine per cent.

For the CACS intervention fund, Gtbank still had N3.29bn (December 2022: N5.05bn. The facility is for a period of seven years at two per cent annual cost to the company. The maximum interest rate to the borrowers under the scheme is nine per cent annually inclusive of all charges.

“The facility is for a maximum year of seven years at a zero per cent interest rate to the Bank. The Bank did not provide security for this facility. From this creditor, the bank has nil undrawn balance as at 30 June 2023.”

The Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise, Dr. Muda Yusuf, told reporters on Sunday that it is necessary to assess the intervention funds in order to find out what went wrong and what can be done to fix it.

He said, “If you want to reform the system, you have to do a study of what is on the ground. For the intervention fund, it is good to do an assessment. What they are doing is an assessment to know, which areas they need to improve.

“As you know, the default rate is also very high. That is another reason it is important to do a proper assessment to know what went wrong and what can be improved.”

Also speaking, a development economist, Dr Aliyu Ilias, stressed that the apex bank ought not to be involved in handling intervention funds.

He also criticised the structure of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, which has been a major point of controversy.

He said, “First and foremost, CBN should not be involved in any intervention fund. We have Ministry of Agriculture and the Bank of Industry. So, any intervention that want to come should go through these agencies.

“If you look at Anchor Borrower, I think the structure is not very good. I think there is policy problem and we need to look at it.”

He added that it is usually not advisable to have a CBN governor with a background in banking as there tends to be a “romance” between the banks and the apex bank.

“There is no way they will not call Gtbank CEO. Some people need to be called to assess the funds. Banks must have comprised the criteria or list of people to get the loans,” he noted.

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