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Economy

Lagos Governor Assures Investors Business-Friendly Environment

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Ecobank Pan African Centre Business-Friendly Environment

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

Those interested in investing in Lagos State have been assured by the Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, of a business-friendly environment.

Mr Sanwo-Olu gave this assurance at the commissioning of the new ultra-modern Ecobank Nigeria head office, the Ecobank Pan African Centre (EPAC), in Victoria Island last week.

He said the state government was determined to continue to attract foreign direct investments (FDIs) as it is one of the critical needs of the state and Nigeria at large.

The Governor described the Ecobank building as a masterpiece, which he said has a strong connection that will enhance the state’s Smart City Project and modernize infrastructure within the metropolis.

He lauded the management of the Pan African bank for the vision behind the project as it was redefining building and infrastructure development in the state, stressing that the building meets the various vital parameter such as the latest energy-efficient technology, environmental sustainability, sparkling ambience and state-of-the-art amenities that will further enhance staff sustainability and service delivery.

He expressed excitement over the state-of-the-art facilities at the complex, noting that “This Pan African centre is indeed an intelligent building designed with energy efficiency and is one of the things we need in Nigeria.”

“I know that this building will speak to a lot of the very best. It is a state-of-the-art building focused on environmental sustainability and I am sure that from what I have seen around, it is a redefining building and infrastructural development,” he added.

Governor Sanwo-Olu further said, “The government of Lagos state is happy to let us know that we are building one of the audacious and vibrant infrastructures in the whole of Africa.

“You know that we are currently deploying over 3000 km of fibre connectivity to support businesses that require low-cost connectivity. We will continue to create enabling environment for you.”

While lauding Ecobank management for its sustained attainments of the bank over the years, he urged them to continue to attract the underbanked to the banking space.

Welcoming guests, Chairman, Ecobank Nigeria, Ms Bola Adesola, said the centre is a dream come true, noting that it is a tribute to the vision of the founding fathers in creating a world-class Pan-African Banking group and providing excellent financial services across Africa.

She said the centre with sparkling ambience boasts of state-of-the-art amenities, houses smart offices, a restaurant, multipurpose conference hall, gym, crèche, a parking lot that can accommodate 130 vehicles at a time, experience and game centre and a rooftop terrace, among others, stating it is targeted to further enhance productivity and service delivery to customers.

Also speaking, Group Chief Executive, Ecobank Transnational Incorporation (ETI), Mr Ade Ayeyemi, said EPAC is an important milestone as it consolidates achievements of several years of the company.

According to him, “The office complex brings together our staff. It is a testament to the effort of the people that have come before us. It allows us to be able to create a new working environment where our staff can attend to customers and our customers can do business in the smart working environment. We can bring all our staff to one location instead of distributing them across multiple locations.”

Talking about the uniqueness of the Ecobank brand, Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Mr Patrick Akinwuntan, said the vision of the founding founders was to build a pan African centre, stressing that the bank is presently in 35 countries of Africa.

According to him, “In Nigeria, we are a major player in the financial industry. Recall we launched the first international credit card in the history of banking in Nigeria, the Ecobank Master card and Visa card in 2004. We are also a pioneer in mobile banking, *326# was one of the first mobile banking platforms approved.

“In this era of AFCTA, where Africa aims at operating as one market, this pan African centre has opened its doors to every SMEs, individuals seeking to expand their business across Africa.

“We are the go-to bank for trade, payment, and collection in Africa because we have one pan African switch to make instant payment across Africa. The way you see the Nigerian Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) transfer within Nigeria is the way Ecobank is across Africa. Our mobile app is one bank that has 33 countries on it.”

Aduragbemi Omiyale is a journalist with Business Post Nigeria, who has passion for news writing. In her leisure time, she loves to read.

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Economy

Financial Industry Players Must Collaborate to Satisfy Customers Needs

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financial industry players

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The Managing Director of Interswitch Purepay, Mr Akeem Lawal, has called on critical players in the Nigerian financial service industry to put heads together to provide innovative solutions and unique offerings to customers.

According to him, customers deserve the best from financial industry players like banks, telecommunications companies and financial technology (fintech) firms in order to meet the 95 per cent financial inclusion target by 2024.

Mr Lawal, who delivered a presentation at the recently-concluded Nigerian Fintech Forum at the Civic Centre, Lagos, stated that the partnership will accelerate growth and deepen financial inclusion in the country.

He said despite the growth of the financial sector, customers are yearning for more innovative and seamless payment solutions, which must be designed to meet their needs strengthen the financial industry.

The tech expert said at the event themed Building Partnership for Growth, Exploring the Intersection of Banks, Telcos and Fintech Companies that the Nigeria financial industry has evolved tremendously over the years with customers transitioning from banking halls transactions to adopting digital payment services.

“As headline platinum sponsor, we are delighted to be sponsoring the Nigeria Fintech Forum because we believe that a platform like this will provide the opportunity for critical stakeholders in the financial industry to engage and proffer solutions that will consequently drive the growth of the financial Industry.

“At Interswitch, we will continue to design tailor-made solutions that speak to the need of every customer. Therefore, it is important for players in the financial industry, including the banks, telcos and fintechs to leverage collaboration to provide innovative and seamless solutions to customers. This is the only way we can meet the 95% financial inclusion target by 2024,” Mr Lawal stated.

Speaking during the panel session tagged Regulating Nigeria’s Fintech Industry, Building Investors Confidence Without Stifling Growth, another speaker, Mr Tyoyila Aga, who is Group Head, Financial Services Business at Interswitch, said it was important that players in the industry collaborate with regulators, keep abreast of new regulations and help strengthen compliance levels to grow the financial industry.

“At Interswitch, our approach to regulators is to work in harmonious ways with them and that is what we have been doing for two decades. This has helped us to understand regulations better and we urge other players to do same to grow the industry,” Mr Aga said.

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Economy

Airtel Africa Gets $125m Credit Facility from Citibank

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airtel africa

By Adedapo Adesanya

Top telecommunications company, Airtel Africa Plc, has announced the signing of a $125 million revolving credit facility with Citibank’s subsidiaries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

This was contained in a disclosure sent to the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited.

It was stated that the credit facility will provide Airtel Africa with the opportunity to save interest rates in exchange for achieving social impact milestones in such areas as digital inclusion and gender diversity.

The social impact projects will focus mainly on rural areas and women and are aligned with Airtel Africa’s recently launched sustainability strategy.

Airtel Africa’s newly secured $125 million credit facility is part of the telco’s corporate strategy to raise debt in its local operating companies. To this effect, the facility will come in both local currencies and US dollars. It will also have a 1-year tenor.

“This facility is in line with our strategy to raise debt in our local operating companies and will include both local currency and US dollar-denominated debt. The facility has a tenor up to September 2024 and will be used to support Airtel Africa’s operations and investments in four of its subsidiaries,” the statement said.

This is a big boost to the telco which operates in 14 African markets and has ongoing projects across several of these markets, including the recent acquisition of an additional 60 MHz spectrum for $40 million in Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Airtel Africa’s business offerings range from telecommunications to mobile money services. It has a combined user base of about 131.6 million.

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Economy

DisCos Reduce Number of Estimated Billing Customers by 16.3%

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estimated billing customers

By Adedapo Adesanya

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said that the number of Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) customers in Nigeria increased by 1.4 per cent from 10.37 million in 2020 to 10.51 million in 2021.

The report, Nigeria Electricity Report 2021, focuses on energy billed, revenue generated, and customers by DISCOS under the reviewed period.

The report said the number of metered customers rose by 36.2 per cent from 3.51 million in 2020 to 4.77 million in 2021, causing the number of estimated billing customers to decrease by 16.3 per cent from 6.86 million in 2020 to 5.74 million in 2021.

It was disclosed that in total, the value of electricity billed in 2021 grew by 5.9 per cent from 22,042.28 Gigawatts (Gwh) in 2020 to 23,360.59 (Gwh) in 2021, while the total revenue collected by the discos stood at N761.17 billion, 44.5 per cent higher than the N526.77 billion achieved in 2020.

A breakdown showed that the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) recorded the highest number of metered customers in 2021 at 701,781, while Yola Electricity Distribution Company (YEDC) recorded the least with 65,098.

In terms of electricity supplied, Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (IKEDC) recorded the highest in 2021 with 4,088.62 Gwh, while YEDC recorded the lowest at 422.00 Gwh.

Similarly, the highest revenue collected was by IKEDC with 155,012.01 million while the least collection was recorded in YEDC with 9,804.00m million.

More than 83 million Nigerians do not have access to grid electricity. This represents 43 per cent of the country’s population and makes Nigeria the country with the largest energy access deficit in the world.

The lack of reliable power is a significant constraint for citizens and businesses, resulting on annual economic losses estimated at N10.1 trillion, which is equivalent to about 2 per cent of GDP.

According to the now-discontinued World Bank Doing Business report for 2020, Nigeria ranked 171 out of 190 countries in getting electricity and electricity access is seen as one of the major constraints for the private sector.

To assist in mitigating this, the World Bank approved $500 million to support the government of Nigeria in improving its electricity distribution sector last year.

According to the global lender, the project will help boost electricity access by improving the performance of the DisCos through a large-scale metering programme.

In addition, the World Bank said financial support would be provided to private distribution companies only on achievement of results in terms of access connections, improved financial management and network expansion.

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