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Protest at IMF, World Bank meeting over Nigeria’s borrowing

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Protest at IMF, World Bank meeting over Nigeria’s borrowing

 

NaijaNews reports that as the 2023 edition of the World Bank Group, WBG, spring meetings draw to a close tomorrow in Washington, DC, United States of America, Nigeria’s participation for the first time ever appears to have been colored by policy protests coming from the civil society groups.

On the sidelines of the meetings, Auwal Rafsanjani, the Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CSLAC, one of the groups from Africa at the meeting, told a select group of journalists that the representatives of civil society groups in Africa had a unique session with the Bretton Woods Institutions where the issues of accountability and governance in respect of debt were discussed.

According to him, they raised a concern with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, IMF, about Nigeria’s incessant borrowings from the two institutions, especially the latest borrowing of $800 million.

He also said that the backdrop to the concern was the worsening economic situation of the country amid continued borrowing, which he said was plunging the country deeper into debt crises that would be faced by generations of citizens that did not benefit from the loans.

He alleged that the funds borrowed were not used for the purpose but rather were taken up by corruption.

His words: ‘‘The Nigerian economy is really suffering from so many problems: corruption, mismanagement, misplacement of priorities, lack of compliance with our financial regulations, and even what we may see as deliberate efforts by public officials to undermine the revenue by creating leakages that further put the economy in jeopardy.

‘‘Nigeria continues to repay this money (loans) despite the deficit in our infrastructure and other social sectors that suffer significantly, like the collapse of education and the healthcare system, and other important aspects of governance like security.

‘‘Yet the Nigerian government is borrowing money to finance subsidies. ” Closely related to this development is the government’s recent pronouncement to borrow and spend over $800 million in the name of subsidy palliative.

‘‘This is another scam, because in 2020, during COVID, the Nigerian government approached the IMF for a loan of $3.4 billion with a view to cushion the effects of COVID. But what we have seen is that the money was not judiciously utilized, and ordinary Nigerians who were promised palliatives did not see any. ” In fact, because of official corruption, money was diverted by different agencies and parastatals in the name of palliative care.

‘‘We all remember how NNPC came to the National Assembly to testify about the billions they used in the name of COVID palliatives. We also remembered the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry and how they told the whole nation that, while children were at home, they were doing school feeding programs.

‘‘So this is how the money borrowed by the Nigerian government and the contributions and donations by international partners and even Nigerian philanthropists disappeared without accountability.

‘‘So for you to now, at the last minute of your regime, be leaving next month and borrowing $800 million to share without any clear accountability framework, it calls for alarm, worry, and concern.

‘‘With the rising inflation, increase in unemployment, and increase in poverty, the country’s economy is becoming more and more worrisome. ” This is why the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center came along with other civil society organizations to the spring meeting taking place here in Washington, DC, to have discussions with World Bank and IMF officials.

‘‘So yesterday we met with the directors of the IMF and World Bank, with a few select civil society groups from Africa, of which I happen to be one, to discuss our concern about the way and manner in which our country quickly ran to come and borrow money, even in deviation from the fiscal responsibility law, which clearly states how government should borrow money.

‘‘But they borrow this money to finance non-economic projects. In many instances, the so-called constituency projects also take up a large chunk of the money they are borrowing to finance the budget.

‘‘So, we have come to discuss with them to express our worries and concern that the non-transparent spending of borrowed money by our government is of great concern to us and that they must not continue to give these monies without putting in place an accountability mechanism and also safe reporting for whistle-blowers.

“And if these monies are meant for the people of Nigeria, then they must involve non-state actors at least to observe and monitor how these monies are spent.”

‘‘Now, the Nigerian government continues to borrow money from all sorts of commercial banks. The worst part of it is that we are borrowing at the highest interest rate, which is difficult to repay.

‘‘Even the conventional ones that they earlier wanted, we are finding it difficult to repay, not to mention those other commercial banks whose charges are very high and whose interest rates are very high.

By Emeka Anaeto, Business Editor in Washington, DC

As the 2023 edition of the World Bank Group, WBG, spring meetings draw to a close tomorrow in Washington, DC, United States of America, Nigeria’s participation for the first time ever appears to have been colored by policy protests coming from the civil society groups.

On the sidelines of the meetings, Auwal Rafsanjani, the Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CSLAC, one of the groups from Africa at the meeting, told a select group of journalists that the representatives of civil society groups in Africa had a unique session with the Bretton Woods Institutions where the issues of accountability and governance in respect of debt were discussed.

According to him, they raised a concern with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, IMF, about Nigeria’s incessant borrowings from the two institutions, especially the latest borrowing of $800 million.

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He also said that the backdrop to the concern was the  worsening economic situation of the country amid continued borrowing, which he said was plunging the country deeper into debt crises that would be faced by generations of citizens that did not benefit from the loans.

He alleged that the funds borrowed were not used for the purpose but rather were taken up by corruption.

His words: ‘‘The Nigerian economy is really suffering from so many problems: corruption, mismanagement, misplacement of priorities, lack of compliance with our financial regulations, and even what we may see as deliberate efforts by public officials to undermine the revenue by creating leakages that further put the economy in jeopardy.

‘‘Nigeria continues to repay this money (loans) despite the deficit in our infrastructure and other social sectors that suffer significantly, like the collapse of education and the healthcare system, and other important aspects of governance like security.

‘‘Yet the Nigerian government is borrowing money to finance subsidies. ” Closely related to this development is the government’s recent pronouncement to borrow and spend over $800 million in the name of subsidy palliative.

‘‘This is another scam, because in 2020, during COVID, the Nigerian government approached the IMF for a loan of $3.4 billion with a view to cushion the effects of COVID. But what we have seen is that the money was not judiciously utilized, and ordinary Nigerians who were promised palliatives did not see any. ” In fact, because of official corruption, money was diverted by different agencies and parastatals in the name of palliative care.

‘‘We all remember how NNPC came to the National Assembly to testify about the billions they used in the name of COVID palliatives. We also remembered the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry and how they told the whole nation that, while children were at home, they were doing school feeding programs.

‘‘So this is how the money borrowed by the Nigerian government and the contributions and donations by international partners and even Nigerian philanthropists disappeared without accountability.

‘‘So for you to now, at the last minute of your regime, be leaving next month and borrowing $800 million to share without any clear accountability framework, it calls for alarm, worry, and concern.

‘‘With the rising inflation, increase in unemployment, and increase in poverty, the country’s economy is becoming more and more worrisome. ” This is why the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center came along with other civil society organizations to the spring meeting taking place here in Washington, DC, to have discussions with World Bank and IMF officials.

‘‘So yesterday we met with the directors of the IMF and World Bank, with a few select civil society groups from Africa, of which I happen to be one, to discuss our concern about the way and manner in which our country quickly ran to come and borrow money, even in deviation from the fiscal responsibility law, which clearly states how government should borrow money.

‘‘But they borrow this money to finance non-economic projects. In many instances, the so-called constituency projects also take up a large chunk of the money they are borrowing to finance the budget.

‘‘So, we have come to discuss with them to express our worries and concern that the non-transparent spending of borrowed money by our government is of great concern to us and that they must not continue to give these monies without putting in place an accountability mechanism and also safe reporting for whistle-blowers.

“And if these monies are meant for the people of Nigeria, then they must involve non-state actors at least to observe and monitor how these monies are spent.”

‘‘Now, the Nigerian government continues to borrow money from all sorts of commercial banks. The worst part of it is that we are borrowing at the highest interest rate, which is difficult to repay.

‘‘Even the conventional ones that they earlier wanted, we are finding it difficult to repay, not to mention those other commercial banks whose charges are very high and whose interest rates are very high.

‘‘We are also concerned that there is no civic space to discuss the economic management of Nigeria with non-state actors in Nigeria. For example, the minister of finance is here, the CBN governor is here, and so many government agencies are here, but they are not able to have this kind of discussion with non-state actors that are also attending this meeting, unlike what we see in other countries.

‘‘For other countries, they sit down with their non-state actors, like civil society organizations, to discuss how to even approach the IMF and the World Bank.

‘‘But the arrogance of a few tiny public officials in Nigeria is closing the space for the civil society to make valuable contributions to address the economic deterioration in Nigeria.

‘‘So that is why, since we have a voice here, we have the opportunity to interact with them (the World Bank and IMF). They are the ones who are giving this loan, and they are the ones who are also talking to the Nigerian government.

‘‘We are talking through them sadly, which is not supposed to be the case. We are supposed to be taking them to our government, but our government has decided to close the civic space to enable civil society to give concrete recommendations and suggestions on how to rebrand the economy.

‘‘So we also want the administration of Bola Tinubu to ensure that they strengthen our fiscal responsibility law so that whenever we are borrowing, we are in compliance with the fiscal responsibility law. And those loans must not be just for consumption; they must actually be for productivity that will even pay back those loans’’.

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Access Bank Establishes Dedicated Desk to Enhance Agric Lending

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Access Bank Establishes Dedicated Desk to Enhance Agric Lending

Access Bank Establishes Dedicated Desk to Enhance Agric Lending

•Says it has invested over N200bn in agro businesses

Access Bank Plc has launched a dedicated Agriculture Desk that would support agribusiness and boost food security in Nigeria as part of its commitment to the realisation of “From Farm to Table” policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN).

The Agriculture Desk, which was designed to serve as a specialised unit within the bank, would offer financial and advisory services and provide support to prospective and existing operators in the Nigerian agribusiness value chain.

The bank said the desk would also provide services in the areas of input and supply, primary production, storage, processing, marketing and mechanised agriculture among others in a way that would facilitate the actualisation of the “From Farm to Table” policy thrust of the CBN, which it stressed aligns with its vision of contributing to the country’s achievement of sustainable food security.

Speaking on Tuesday, during a press conference that marked the unveiling of the Agriculture Desk at the Access Towers, the Executive Director, Commercial Banking, Ms. Hadiza Ambursa, said, “the Agriculture Desk is not only about financing. It is about driving transformational change within the agricultural landscape.”

“Our commitment extends beyond monetary support to encompass capacity building, technology adoption, and market access for our clients,” she added.

Ambursa, added that “the Agriculture Desk’s impressive track record has been built on partnerships with key stakeholders, including government agencies, international organisations, and industry associations. This collaborative approach has reinforced our reputation as a reliable driver of growth in Nigeria’s agricultural sector.”

She said Access Bank has positively contributed to the nation’s quest to achieve self-sustained food security.

“So far, the bank’s investment in agribusiness is over N200 billion, which has benefitted over 10,000 agribusinesses, across Small Holder Farms (SHFs), Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), organised farmer associations/cooperatives and corporates who are financed under bank’s various product and government schemes.

“The support for these projects has had impacts such as increase in food security, job creation, growth in customers’ businesses and increased revenue,” she added.

Access Bank said with its steadfast commitment to sustainable agricultural business and strategic stakeholders’ partnerships, it has steered Nigeria and the African continent toward greater self-sufficiency in food production and global prominence.

It further noted that by strategically aligning its services with the evolving needs in the agricultural industry, Access Bank has enhanced its capacity to provide tailored financial solutions that address the unique challenges faced by farmers, agribusinesses and other stakeholders in the value chain with the value addition services, including provision of financial and advisory services, market linkages to support sales, capacity building with special focus on women and youth), stakeholders’ engagement, project monitoring and reporting, just to name a few.

Access Bank also assured its clients that its Agriculture desk would offer seamless and simplified process for accessibility of its services within two weeks.

Assessing these services, it said, would begin with, “being our customer, submit loan application and documentations such as feasibility report, acceptable credit checks and other others, then the loan request is reviewed, farm / factory / site inspection is done. If a customer meets all loan requirements, upon receipt of complete documentation and depending on the amount, the process takes between one to two weeks.

“Also, the loan tenor is aligned with project gestation period and customer cash flow and repayment plan allows monthly or quarterly repayment in line with the customer’s cashflow while our interest rate is highly competitive and in line with market realities.

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WEMA BANK, SELAR PARTNER TO EMPOWER AFRICA’S CREATOR ECONOMY WITH A WEBINAR ON “THE DIGITAL ECONOMY AND THE FUTURE OF WORK”

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WEMA BANK, SELAR PARTNER TO EMPOWER AFRICA’S CREATOR ECONOMY WITH A WEBINAR ON “THE DIGITAL ECONOMY AND THE FUTURE OF WORK”

WEMA BANK, SELAR PARTNER TO EMPOWER AFRICA’S CREATOR ECONOMY WITH A WEBINAR ON “THE DIGITAL ECONOMY AND THE FUTURE OF WORK”

Wema Bank, Nigeria’s most innovative bank and pioneer of Africa’s first fully digital bank, ALAT, has partnered with Selar, Africa’s largest creator platform, to empower African creatives and bridge the prevalent gaps in the African creative space.

This revolutionary partnership has birthed a power-packed webinar titled “The Digital Economy and the Future of Work”, a learning and problem-solving webinar aimed at helping Africans—especially Nigerian—creators to maximise their potential and leverage available resources to transform their creativity into sustainable streams of income.

In a world where work is evolving, the concept of employment is undergoing a profound transformation. The creator economy is reshaping the digital landscape, granting young individuals unprecedented opportunities to create and monetize knowledge as never before.

Generation Z and Millennials are harnessing the creative space to attain financial independence by selling digital content and forging careers as creators. Scheduled for September 29, 2023, this webinar promises to illuminate the challenges and prospects that creators encounter as they navigate this exhilarating terrain. It offers invaluable insights into effectively tapping into its potential.

According to a survey conducted by Selar, one in every four creators is an employer, a testament to the potential for creators not only to earn but to create job opportunities, thus bolstering the African Creator Economy as a stable and lucrative source of income. This, in turn, promises to reduce unemployment rates in Africa, contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Solomon Ayodele, Head of Innovation & Corporate Transformation at Wema Bank and one of the speakers at the event, commended the bank’s commitment to innovation, recounting the bank’s storied history of resilience and technological advancement. He affirmed Wema Bank’s dedication to equipping its customers with practical knowledge to help them monetize the digital sphere effectively.

According to Douglas Kendyson, the C.E.O. of Selar and another speaker at the event, the dream is for the partnership to mark the beginning of a strong network of groundbreaking initiatives from both powerhouses—Wema Bank and Selar—to revolutionise the creative space in Africa and build more jobs for Africans all over the world.

“I’ve been in the tech space for years now and Wema Bank has been at the forefront of innovation—from digital banking alternatives like ALAT to youth-empowering technology programmes like Hackaholics and much more—all of which have shaped the entire FinTech industry, which is why this partnership is so important to us at Selar.

This highly anticipated event would demystify the complexities of the creative space, with a distinct focus on the African context. Key speakers for the webinar include Douglas Kendyson, Solomon Ayodele, Benjamin Dada (Founder/Publisher, Benjamin Dada Blog), and Senior Manoa, one of Nigeria’s premier creators.

Attendees can expect to gain valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities faced by creators across the African continent, the pivotal role of financial institutions in fostering the growth of the creator economy, and practical guidance for establishing and enhancing successful online businesses with digital products.

This event welcomes attendees from all walks of life, from budding creators to established entrepreneurs eager to harness the dynamic potential of the creator economy.

Wema Bank, once again, redefines the global standard for banking and reaffirms its position as the bank that works tirelessly to support every stakeholder. Mark your calendar for “The Digital Economy and the Future of Work” on September 29, 2023. To secure your spot, register for free at [https://bit.ly/WemaXSelar].

About Wema Bank:

Wema Bank is the pioneer of Africa’s first fully digital bank, ALAT, and one of Nigeria’s most resilient banks. With decades of experience in the business of banking, the bank has remained innovative in delivering value to its stakeholders. The publicly quoted Nigerian company has successfully built a legacy of trust and resilience that has won the loyalty of its customers.

The bank is constantly introducing products and services tailored to the needs of its customers at every stage of their lives. It is a proud partner to more than one million individuals, families, and businesses across Nigeria, helping them achieve their personal and financial goals.

About Selar: Selar is an innovative e-commerce store builder designed to empower creators to showcase and sell their digital products. With a user-friendly interface and comprehensive features, Selar has become a leading platform for monetizing knowledge and skills in the digital space.

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UBA IS HEADLINE SPONSOR OF LAGOS INTERNATIONAL TRADE FAIR 2023, PARTNERS LCCI TO BOOST SMALL BUSINESSES IN AFRICA

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United Bank for Africa, Banking Beyond Borders

UBA IS HEADLINE SPONSOR OF LAGOS INTERNATIONAL TRADE FAIR 2023, PARTNERS LCCI TO BOOST SMALL BUSINESSES IN AFRICA

 

  • UBA to Incentivise Businesses that register to Attend.

 

Africa’s Global Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA) has announced that it is once again the headline sponsor of the 2023 edition of the annual Lagos International Trade Fair.

In partnership with the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), organisers of the annual event, UBA seeks to bolster small and medium scales businesses, while catalysing entrepreneurial growth across the continent.

For the past five years, UBA has been the headline sponsor for this all-important event, and this year’s edition which is the 37th, is scheduled to hold at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos, between November 3rd and 12th, 2023.

Speaking at a press briefing in the Commerce House, Lagos on Thursday to announce the partnership, the Chairman Trade Promotion Board, LCCI, Engr. Leye Kupoluyi, commended UBA for once again sponsoring the Trade fair.

He told participants that this edition promises to provide networking opportunities, showcasing innovation, promoting international trade, industry and sector diversity while boosting local businesses.

He said the local organising committee is bringing world class facilities and ambience with the best exhibition standard, health, safety and deployment of digital banking platforms provided by the bank for the ease of money transactions and intra-Africa fund transfers.

UBA’s Head, SME Banking, Babatunde Ajayi, who spoke on the partnership said, “UBA’s partnership with the LCCI emphasizes its support for local businesses and the community.

We at UBA, consider this as exemplary which is why our partnership with LCCI continues to stand the test of time. There is no gain saying that in virtually all economies all over the world – developed and developing alike, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are critical to the generation of economic activity and to long-term sustainability.”

He explained that the bank’s commitment to offer special incentives to businesses that register to attend the fair is In line with UBA’s unflinching support to the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), maintaining that “UBA will be giving special incentives to businesses who register to attend the fair,” Ajayi noted.

Overall, the collaboration between UBA and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry to host the Lagos International Trade Fair in 2023 appears to be a significant opportunity for businesses, both small and large, to grow, network, and explore new horizons in the business world. It has the potential to boost economic activity and contribute to the development of the Nigerian business landscape.

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 presence in New York, London, Cayman Island and Paris 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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