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Panelists at UBA Africa Conversation seek innovation to unlock potential for growth in continent

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The United Bank for Africa (CBN) held the fifth UBA Africa Conversations, where panelists agreed that the time had come for the rich potential of the continent to be unlocked.

They also shared views on the opportunities that abound on the continent.

The Conversations, which were held on Wednesday at the Tony Elumelu Amphitheatre at the UBA House, Lagos, saw the gathering of top management and business leaders, led by the Group Chairman, UBA Group, Tony Elumelu; the Group Managing Director, Oliver Alawuba; and other key players in the economic, financial, and business landscape in Africa.

Welcoming guests at the meeting, the GMD, Oliver Alawuba, said the bank is on a mission to transform Africa and then change the world.

He said UBA remains at the forefront of leading conversations that will lead to positive change on the continent while helping to unlock the vast opportunities waiting to be tapped in Africa.

“Our institution is more than a bank. We have a mission to change Africa and the world.

“This is the time where the beauty, the talent, the culture, the diversity, and the warmth of Africa are celebrated. As Africa’s global bank, UBA is committed to helping Africa become the continent of the future. We take our pan-Africanness seriously because we believe Africa needs to be celebrated.’’

Continuing, he said: “The theme for this year’s Africa Day, ‘Innovation on the Continent for Growth,’ is apt for our conversation because of the challenges and the opportunities that Africa as a continent is faced with; but the truth remains that between these challenges and opportunities is a thin line, which we believe UBA Group can help unlock the challenges and engineer prosperity.”

The event was made up of an all-female panel of certified professionals from various fields.

They include the Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer, UBA Africa, Abiola Bawuah; President, Transnational Corporation (Transcorp) Plc, Owen Omogiafo; award-winning and trendsetting foodpreneur/chef, Hilda Baci; renowned fashion designer, Banke Lawson-Kuku; and Business & Technology Executive, Folusho Gbadamosi.

Bawuah, who referred to how UBA has led innovation in Africa, cited the bank as being the first financial institution to have a Board of Directors with more female members than males.

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She said, “When we talk of innovation in Africa, we can bring it back home to UBA.

As it stands, we have more female board members than any bank, thanks to the Chairman of the Board, Tony Elumelu, who believes that women can occupy top roles in organizations and excel. This is very remarkable, and I know that other organizations have started trying to emulate it. So, by this move, we are leading the positive change in Africa, and this is very laudable.” Encouraging the girl child, Bawuah said, “The ceiling has been broken; it is no longer an excuse. We need to seize opportunities, keep moving, and be determined.

Omogiafo, who spoke on the uniqueness of Africa, maintained that there is no place like Africa. She spoke on the need to innovate because innovation is survival. On Africa’s potential, she asked: ‘Where else can you get the kind of returns you get in Africa? We have huge opportunities, deep cultural roots, and hard-working people, and all that is needed is to tap into the vast opportunities that we have on this continent.”

Baci, who is still reeling from the accolades that accompanied her efforts to break the Guinness World Record after cooking for over 100 hours a few weeks ago, echoed Owen and emphasized the importance of sustainability, discipline, and reading in business as she advised young Africans to be focused and empower themselves through the art of reading.

She said, “As a young entrepreneur, even if you do not have money to take a business course, you can read. If you want to survive in the business world, it is important to arm yourself with information and learn, as this will keep you going, especially in a world that is constantly changing.”

Banke Kuku, a creative fashion entrepreneur, said that the world is cherishing Africa because of its fashion and added that this is an industry that can be tapped to our benefit. “The world is really looking at Africa, and we can use our fashion to keep telling African stories to the world,” she said.

Gbadamosi, who is a business and technology executive, advised Africans, especially young people, to take advantage of the vast resources that the internet has presented to us.

“There is so much available online; do not let technology scare you; things are changing, so we need to arm ourselves with all the information we can garner. Innovation is all about evolution, and so we need to be intentional about positive change. I believe if we all come together and solve the problems, we will go very far indeed.”

Elumelu, who thanked participants who joined the event both physically and virtually, said UBA will continue to lead the narrative and discussions on the development, growth, and unity of Africa.

(omayowa@globalfinancialdigest.com; Newsroom: +234 8033 964 138)

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