Nigeria financial institutions are Pivotal to Success of AfCFTA~Ecobank
The success of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will rely heavily on the financial services industry’s ability to facilitate the liberalization process, according to the Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan.
Akinwuntan said this at a webinar titled: Exploring Nigeria’s Readiness for the African Continental Free Trade Area organized by Deloitte.
He said the banking industry in Nigeria is ready for the implementation of the AfCFTA, and that it will be responsible for facilitating transactions, mobilizing savings, allocating capital funds and monitoring managers so that the funds allocated will be utilised as envisaged, as well as managing risks.
“Nigeria banks have strong capital and their operating synergies have been tremendous for the past five years particularly in the digital banking space.
“Nigeria is a leading player on the continent in payments required to facilitate trade; mobilization of savings required to galvanize the economy; focus on the SME segment, which is the largest employer of labour especially in the critical industries such as Agriculture as Africa is a continent that is rich in commodities; education of our teeming population and health,” Akinwuntan said.
The Ecobank Managing Director said for the financial institutions to adequately play their expected roles, they would need to drive value creation by developing new technologies, scaling their payment infrastructure and methods to a pan African play to serve the diversified economies expected from the agreement.
“Africa’s financial services sector will also be relied on to provide the credit and support necessary for certain industries to move forward particularly the infrastructure and manufacturing sectors, which will be at the centre of Africa’s development goals following the AfCFTA enactment.
“Nigerian financial service industry has the basic platform to enable African financial services to contribute significantly to the trade area.
“The BVN innovation in Nigeria is unique, more like the social security number in USA. NIBSS, the hub for payment systems in Nigeria is a strong base that is scalable to a pan African payment network.
“In terms of continental expansion, we are beginning to increased interest in Pan African banks. Ecobank with strong Nigeria content, is a lead player in this space, with presence in over 33 countries in Africa,” he stated.
Earlier, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo said the Nigerian government was irrevocably committed to the success of the AfCTA.
According to him, the AfCFTA complements Nigeria’s export diversification aspiration as it provides preferential market access for Nigerian products and services in the vast African market.
“For Nigeria, the gains are significant. The AfCFTA would expand market access for Nigeria’s exporters of goods and services, spur growth and boost job creation, eliminate barriers against Nigeria’s products, provide a Dispute Settlement Mechanism for stopping the hostile and discriminatory treatment directed against Nigerian, safeguard the Nigerian economy from dumping and unfair trade practices and support the industrial policy, among others among others.” He stated.