By Dipo Olowookere
Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, has called on financial institutions in the country to provide adequate support to agro-processing companies.
According to him, the decline in the foreign exchange earnings from crude oil is a clear pointer that attention must be shifted to the agriculture sector.
Mr Emefiele, who spoke at the 13th annual banking and finance conference of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), stressed that the agriculture industry has the tendency of withstanding external shocks better than its oil counterpart.
In view of this, he called on players in the banking and financial system to provide support for “sectors that have significant growth potential and can enhance the resilience of the Nigerian economy, in the face of external shocks.”
“Over the next 4 years, the banking sector should consider ways under which it could increase its loans to the agriculture sector from 4 per cent to 10 per cent by 2024.
“With declining foreign exchange earnings from crude oil, banks should consider supporting agro processing companies that are export oriented,” Mr Emefiele said.
At the event, the nation’s chief banker said President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the establishment of a CBN led infrastructure company called Infra-Corp.
According to him, this company was established in partnership with the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) and the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).
He said Infra-Corp would enable the use of private and public capital to support infrastructure investments that will have a multiplier effect on growth across critical sectors.
The CBN chief noted that the apex bank “is seeking to leverage ICT in order to improve access to finance for Nigerians.
“Improved access to finance through deployment of an inclusive and interoperable payment system would help to reduce the cost of payment services for individuals,” he declared.
Concluding, the former GMD of Zenith Bank emphasised that, “It is important that we leverage ICT as an enabler for growth in key sectors of the economy.
“ICT start-ups are emerging to support SMEs, farmers, and in providing quality learning to students affected by the shutdown in schools.”
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