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Agric Technology Hubs Will Boost Nigeria’s Economy—Ecobank

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Agric Technology Hubs

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The need to establish agriculture technology hubs across the country so as to boost the economy has been emphasised by the Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria, Mr Patrick Akinwuntan.

The banker argued that the establishment of these agric technology hubs will further generate activities in the entire value chain and also provide a base for exporting agriculture technology services to other parts of Africa.

Mr Akinwuntan expressed this opinion at the second edition of the Ecobank Agribusiness virtual Summit organised in association with Vanguard Economic Forum Series themed Digitizing the agricultural value chain for unlocking productivity, economic growth and food security.

He said the idea of an agriculture tech hub is quite exciting, saying, “I can directly say Ecobank will support this initiative because it brings the efficiency of a solution factory that is not only available in Nigeria but can also be a base for exporting agric-technology services to drive agriculture in the whole of Africa. I put Ecobank forward as a partner to bring this to reality.”

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Earlier, the co-founder, Corporate Farmers International, Mr Akin Alabi, had disclosed that his organisation has initiated an agric technology hub to attract youths participation in the agric sector, noting that access to technology and innovations will further drive activities in that segment of the economy.

“We have developed a big platform, called a hub to serve both government and private institutions. The hub is generating interests and solutions. And now, we are in partnership with Lagos and Kebbi state governments.

“We are also working with series of agricenterprenures in the country. We have also used the power of technology, mobile phones to bring agric products from the farm gate to the market. We need the support of the private sector to develop the agric tech hub.

“A lot of Fintech hubs are developing different solutions, we also need that in the agric space. In Nigeria today, we can use digitalization to change the narrative and get younger ones to be interested in agriculture.

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“At corporate farmers, we also created an e-learning academy during the COVID-19 lockdowns to bridge the gap between agriculture and education,” he stated.

In his contribution, the Vice President, Nigeria Agricbusiness Group (NABG), Mr Emmanuel Ijewere, noted that digitisation in agriculture must be brought to the actual people in the field who might not be well educated, noting that through technology one can buy food from vendors from wherever they are in any part of the country.

Further, Mr Ijewere noted that we can build a warehouse and make them efficient with the support of technology.

According to him, “Commodity exchanges cannot thrive unless the goods are there. How we move these goods with the support of digitisation and enabling us to provide a sufficient market is very strategic.”

The second edition of the Ecobank Agribusiness Summit organised in association with Vanguard Economic Forum Series had its primary content objective to discuss the role of technology and digitisation across the agricultural value chain.

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The virtual summit had strategic partners such as the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) and Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG).

The speakers and panellists included Kenton Dashiell, Deputy Director-General, Partnership for Delivery, at International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA); Aliyu Abdulhameed, MD/CEO, NIRSAL; Ndidi Nwuneli, Co-founder/Managing Partner, Sahel Partner; Akin Alabi, Co-founder, Corporate Farmers International and Ayodeji Balogun, Country CEO, AFEX Commodities Exchange.

This virtual conference is part of Ecobank’s Digital Series which is in line with the bank’s vision to consolidate a modern Pan-African market, contribute to the economic development and financial integration of the continent.

The summit examined the potential impact of agriculture technology investment in fixing low productivity in Nigeria’s food production; evaluate existing traditional agriculture finance models in Nigeria and the role and impact of technology-enabled commodity exchange trading across the agriculture value chain amongst others.

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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Banking

CBN’s Digital Currency Will Deepen Financial Inclusion—FDC

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Summon CBN Governor

By Adedapo Adesanya

Financial Derivatives Company (FDC) Limited has lauded the proposed plan by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to introduce a digital currency, saying it will deepen financial inclusion in the country.

In a new report, FDC explained that most central banks had indicated keen interests in developing their digital currencies in response to the threats and limitations of cryptocurrency, including poor regulation, price volatility and facilitating illicit financial transactions.

The report said, “Nigeria is set to follow the global trend as it plans to launch its digital currency by year-end. Unlike crypto, digital currencies are regulated by central banks, thus giving them some level of control over the financial system.

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“On a positive note, virtual currencies would facilitate smooth financial transactions and eliminate bottlenecks associated with the use of cash (mutilated notes, forgery, cash handling charges, shortages). It will also deepen financial inclusion and increase the velocity of circulation.”

The analysis highlighted the rising concerns of distrust in the government and its policies, cybersecurity and inadequate digital infrastructure.

“All these could limit the launch and widespread use of the digital currency in the country,” it said.

According to the report, the drop in inflation rate in May for the second straight month contradicts market reality following the report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which disclosed that the country’s inflation rate fell to 17.93 per cent in May from 18.12 per cent in April.

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FDC said contrary to analyst expectations, the decline in consumer price inflation seemed to be more of a trend than a blip.

It said the headline inflation fell again in May primarily due to a fall in the food sub-index to 22.28 per cent from 22.72 per cent in April.

This is coming as the CBN last year issued a circular asking commercial banks and other financial institutions to close accounts transacting in, or operating on, cryptocurrency exchanges.

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All deals involving cryptocurrency are now prohibited with severe regulatory sanctions awaiting erring outfits.

The apex bank also asked commercial banks to identify persons and or entities transacting in or operating cryptocurrency exchanges within their systems and ensure that such accounts are closed immediately.

But since the apex bank announced its intention to introduce a digital currency for the country, it has been applauded.

Apart from the FDC, other analysts have submitted that the proposed CBN’s digital currency would benefit the nation, especially as the digital asset is becoming widely accepted across the globe.

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Banking

CIBN to Revamp Banking Practice in Nigeria With A-TEAM Initiative

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CIBN A-TEAM Initiative

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

A strategic initiative aimed to revamp banking practice in Nigeria has been introduced by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).

The new plan with the acronym A-TEAM means Accelerated Development; Technology and Digital Enhancement; Engagement for Growth; Accountability and Transparent Leadership and Membership Drive for Value.

As part of efforts for its successful implementation, the CIBN is seeking collaborations with financial institutions in the country.

Recently, the President/Chairman of Council, CIBN, Mr Bayo Olugbemi, visited Ecobank Nigeria and he said the A-TEAM initiative will benefit stakeholders in the banking sector.

He applauded Ecobank’s consistent support for the institute over the years to ensure the realisation of its mandate of determining the standards of knowledge and skills development for those seeking to become members of the banking profession.

“We applaud Ecobank Academy as the first corporate member to become a member of the Global Business School Network and for the consistent support for the realisation of the institute’s mandate of determining the standards of knowledge and skills to be attained by persons seeking to become members of the banking profession.

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“We, therefore, seek Ecobank’s collaboration and enlistment in our Endowment/Prize Awards in any subject of interest; support towards the renovation of Abuja Bankers’ House; support for the establishment of banking museum by donating artefacts and other relevant materials; and to participate actively in training programmes of the institute,” Mr Olugbemi said.

Further, he congratulated Ecobank Nigeria and the Ecobank Group on winning several International awards, which includes the Best Retail Bank in Nigeria by Asian Banker; Africa’s Best Bank for Corporate Responsibility by Euromoney (Ecobank Group); African Bank of the Year (African Banker); Innovation in Financial Services Award from African Banker (Ecobank Group); EMEA Finance African Banking Awards 2020.

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Responding, the Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria, Mr Patrick Akinwuntan, pledged more support and collaboration with the institute, restating that Ecobank will continue to contribute to the efforts of the organisation to become top class and remain relevant globally.

“For us at Ecobank, we are extremely proud CIBNs efforts at ensuring public discourse on the future of the Nigeria economy and the banking and finance industry.

“This is not in isolation of the ethics, professionalism, accountability, transparency, good corporate governance without losing focus of harnessing the opportunities technology has provided in the new world order. Be assured of our maximum support and collaboration at all times,” he said.

Mr Akinwuntan also identified with the efforts of the institute to raise the bar of competency and capacity building in the industry, stressing that with sound professional conduct, every banker will be held in high esteem.

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He said Ecobank was working assiduously to ensure a majority of its staff become members of the institute, adding that the bank will also provide more mentees and mentors in its mentorship programme.

“We have a medium to long term programme to ensure all Ecobank Nigeria staff become chartered members of the institute.

“At Ecobank, we take human capacity development very seriously. Some of our staff that wrote the last examinations are now chartered members of the Institute.

“We will also ensure bulk subscription of our staff. We will be nominating 30 mentors and 100 mentees to participate in the second mentorship programme,” he assured.

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Banking

VBank Brightens Spirits at Lagos NYSC Orientation Camp

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VBank NYSC Orientation Camp

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) orientation camp in Lagos was recently brightened by VFD Microfinance Bank, owners of the 2020 banking app of the year, VBank.

The financial institution, for 10 days, entertained corps members and officials alike at their Games Veelage, an arcade set up with interesting games including snooker, Jenga, fuss ball, chess, scrabble, snakes & ladders and video games.

At the climax last Sunday, 15 NYSC members won N150,000 in cash prizes, while others received loads of consolation gifts.

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Dayo Osborne, Gbenga Benedict, Olamide Ojedele, and Joseph Eweje were some of the winners of the N20,000 cash prize category and were rewarded instantly via transfer from the digital banking app, VBank.

While onboarding the graduates on the banking platform, the brand created an avenue for the Batch A Stream 2A corps members to relax after their usual daily camp routine.

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The bank had equally sponsored the inter-platoon games night which took place days before, gifting participants cash transfers using the app’s Proximity Payment feature.

According to Ebere Ahaotu, Product Manager, VBank, “It is our little way of encouraging young people to keep hope alive.

“Camp life can be hectic and VBank is all about ease and convenience so why not brighten up their camp experience, introduce them to a better way to bank and assist them with some funds to transport them to their places of primary assignment. It’s about paying it forward.”

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The corps members have since been posted to different places of assignment within the state while another stream gets ready for camp in July.

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