Chike-Obi Succeeds Ebi As Fidelity Bank Chairman.

Mr. Mustafa Chike-Obi has succeeded Mr. Ernest Ebi, as Chairman of Fidelity Bank Plc. Mr. Ebi, who became Chairman in 2016, has completed his tenure in line with the Bank’s internal governance policy. Mr. Chike-Obi, currently Executive Vice-Chairman at Alpha African Advisory, was the inaugural Chief Executive Officer of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON). He has over 40 years’ experience in investment banking and the financial services sector, having worked with reputable global investment banking and asset management firms. He provides overall leadership at Alpha African Advisory and has direct oversight over the capital raising division. He joined Alpha African Advisory after his tenure as CEO of AMCON, a Federal Government-backed institution, established to resolve the problem of non-performing loan assets of Nigerian banks after the 2008 global financial crisis. Mr. Chike-Obi was Founding President at Madison Advisors, a financial services advisory and consulting firm in New Jersey, USA, specializing in hedge funds and private equity investment advisory services. He holds a First Class Honours Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from the University of Lagos and an MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Fidelity Bank also announced the departure of Otunba Seni Adetu, who has been serving as an Independent Non-Executive Director, as part of the changes on its Board. He has also successfully completed his tenure in accordance with the Bank’s internal governance policy. Mr. Charles Aigbe, Divisional Head, Brand and Communications of Fidelity Bank, says that under the chairmanship of Mr. Ebi, the Bank recorded significant growth across key financial metrics with both he and Otunba Adetu playing significant roles by complementing management’s effort in the delivery of these milestones, aimed at achieving the long term vision of the Bank. The Bank’s market share position has also been materially strengthened over this period. Mr. Ebi will continue in his role until the in-coming Chairman assumes office, as part of the process of ensuring a smooth and successful transition. The changes, according to Mr. Aigbe, attest to Fidelity Bank’s high governance standards and best practices in compliance with internal succession policies. He adds that the outgoing Chairman expressed pride in the results the Bank achieved during his tenure. Says Aigbe: “I feel that the management team has consolidated on our plans to become one of the fastest-growing Banks in the country, strongly rooted in technology only comparable with the best in the world. I am confident that my successor will continue on that path to take the Bank to its next stage of growth and advancement. I wish my successor, the management team, and the entire staff of Fidelity Bank the very best for continued success.” Adetu, the outgoing Non-Executive Director, says: “It has been an honour to be part of the Board over the last few years. Throughout this time, I have been humbled by the commitment and hard work of the Board and Management, and their passion for creating a truly global bank. I am very grateful to them, as I am to Fidelity Bank’s many other stakeholders, with whom we have worked to build a long-term, sustainable business.” The Managing Director/CEO of Fidelity Bank, Mr. Nnamdi John Okonkwo, commends the contributions of the outgoing Board members, saying that the Board and indeed the bank had benefited immensely from their experience and they look forward to continuing the Bank’s upward growth trajectory with the incoming Chairman Designate.

Nine Tools To Re-Work Your Business Model

The devastating impact of Covid-19 on commercial activities is a jolting reminder that the best intentions in the world amount to nothing in the face of a business that fails to adapt to changes in its operating environment. A business that aspires to survive and thrive amidst the challenges of these times must re-think and re-energise its business model.

What is a business model? Your business model drives how it delivers value to its customers, and how it makes money. If your business is not making the kind of money it is capable of making, it is time to tune up your money machine, so that it can start making money again. Here are nine elements that can move the needle and determine the financial success of your business:

  1. Customer Segments: The customer segmentation process divides customers into groups according to characteristics that are common to each group. This enables the business to appropriately and effectively market and sell its products or services to each group.
    Segmentation allows a business to create and communicate targeted marketing messages to specific groups of customers, and select the best communication channel for each segment. This requires the business to gather, analyse and act on specific customer information through face-to-face or telephone interviews, surveys, focus groups, published sources, etc.
  2. Value Propositions: The essence of a value proposition is to offer a product or service that solves a problem and satisfies a need for customers of the business. It cites the unique value of the product or service, and makes the case for why a customer should pick it instead of its competitors.
    The elements of a value proposition could be newness (a hitherto unknown technology), price (cheaper than existing options), safety (peace of mind), performance (lasting longer than similar offerings), customised (built to fit end-user), design (superior make) or branding (confers status). The range is wide as each offering seeks to make a product or a service more appealing to its customers.
  3. Channels: A business must adopt marketing, distribution and sales channels for reaching and offering its value proposition to its target customer segment. For example, a distribution channel can be direct, by selling directly to customers, or indirect, through intermediaries that represent it.
    A business may combine both channels. In so doing, the business must consider its customer segments or market size, level of investment required, whether product or service is standardised or customised, control needed to make it work and relationship with channel partners.
  4. Customer Relationships: A business must create demand by establishing and maintaining relationships with its customer segments. The growth of the customer base of a business, and its ability to retain the loyalty of its customers, are boosts to its ultimate profitability.
  5. Revenue Streams: A business only makes money when there is a surplus after it subtracts its costs of operation from the revenue it generates from its customers. The revenue streams of a business must be clearly defined. Beyond listing the various revenue streams of the business, it is equally important to evaluate if it is profitable for the business to opt for a revenue stream.
  6. Key Activities: These are tasks that are critical to implementing the business model. These activities directly relate to delivering its value proposition, reaching its customers, maintaining customer relations and creating sustainable revenue streams.
  7. Key Resources: These are inputs that the business needs to provide value, satisfy customers and deliver its product or service. These could be physical and tangible assets like buildings, equipment, inventory, buildings and distribution networks that enable the business to function. They could be intangible and non-physical resources like patents or copyrights. They could be such human resources as engineers or sales representatives. They could also be financial resources like cash and loans.
  8. Key Partnerships: A business partnership comes to life when two or more commercial entities form an alliance that empowers the parties to make their key activities possible. Partnerships can be beneficial to a business.
    In the search for efficiency, a business may seek key partners to help it achieve its goal, especially when the business does not have the resources to conduct all key activities in-house. Partnerships leave room for the sharing of resources and outsourcing of selected activities to more cost-effective options. The resulting strategic alliance frees the business to focus on areas where it can create the highest value.
    Whether a partnership is with a business or an individual, the relationship must be based on the right agreement. Each party must understand its rights and duties under the partnership. This must be put in writing and executed by the parties under the guidance of a legal counsel.
  9. Cost Structure: Each business model implies a cost structure for creating and delivering the proposed value, generating revenue and acquiring customers.
    Business incur costs that remain fixed regardless of volumes of products or services. Some costs vary with production volumes. There are also operational costs associated with the daily activities of the business. Economies of scale equally dictate that higher volume lead to lower overall cost per unit, which reduce variable costs arising from synergies and increased efficiency.

In essence, to improve the performance of a business, there must be a re-think of the assumptions underlying how the business makes money. This re-thinking process involves re-engineering each of the nine keys of your business model. The leadership team must vigorously debate how to tweak any one or a combination of these keys, and create a new model of how the business makes or intends to make money, failing which the business may become another statistic of failed enterprises.

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Muhammad Nami: The New Helmsman At FIRS

The Executive Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Muhammad Nami, assumed office on Thursday, December 19, 2019. In a little over six months in service, Oluwole Ajala, Financial Researcher-Reporter, assesses the opening moves of the new helmsman. Read on:
In history, very often, the coming of a man of uncommon drive and vision to a human setup usually leaves an indelible footprint that people refer to long after they have gone. That is why people still talk about NAFDAC under the late Dr. Dora Akunyili, Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) under General Muhmmadu Buhari (Rtd) and FCT administration under Mallam Nasir el-Rufai. Of course, there had been many CEOs before and after the aforementioned, but these names also crop up whenever it comes to gauging high standards of public service. Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) under the leadership of its Executive Chairman, Mr. Muhammad Nami, just about six months old, is already showing signs of great promise, probity and courage like the examples above. I wish to underscore from the onset the obvious fact that the present management of the FIRS under Nami, especially at this critical period of national economic crisis orchestrated by COVID-19, conspicuously bears the landmark of professional competence, commitment and patriotic service to the nation. It is on record that in less than six months of assumption of office, Nami has introduced plausible transformational policies that have seen a new face of FIRS in terms of technology-enhanced tax collection, expansion of tax net in the formal and informal sectors that have continued to receive commendations from critical stakeholders. This has been no small feat towards enhancing the present administration’s policy measures for ease of doing business. As soon as Nami took over, it became crystal clear to all that, at last, the nation’s revenue house has a new vibrant leadership and management that is driving creative and result- oriented reforms with desirable outcomes much to the ovation of industry players, as well as staff members of the FIRS. One of the success stories of Nami at the FIRS is that under his leadership, revenue collection and taxation processes have become easier and hassle-free. The modernisation of revenue collection through introduction and reinforcements of cutting edge ICT has eliminated the hitherto outmoded system that made revenue collection cumbersome and made some revenue officers susceptible to sharp practices and corruption. Branded shops, super stores, general supermarkets, standard restaurants and eateries are among the organisations affected. Under Nami, processing and collection of tax clearance certificate (TCC) has become easy and fast. Same thing with collection of value added tax (VAT) and Stamp Duty largely due to digitisation, a situation that helped to free the system of time-wasting and suffocating bottlenecks. This system allows deduction of stamp duty, withholding tax and Company Income Tax (CIT) from their contractors at the point of payment after which they are to send immediately same to the FIRS. As the executive chairman noted, the significance of this process cannot be over emphasised. According to him, “This is better for everybody as we would all have to do less reconciliation and enforcement activities, and we can, therefore, use the saved time to expand the tax net,” he said. Besides, the FIRS boss has taken one of the most anticipated moves in Nigeria’s tax administration which goes to show that his vision at the revenue house reflects a comprehensive aggregation of public and private players in line with national interest. This step has not only been missing but it has increased the revenue drive of the President Muhammadu Buhari government, a loophole which Nami is determined to close in order to shore up revenue collection drive. This move is the strategy to capture thousands of persons and corporate entities in the tax net, especially with special focus on multinational companies that have been defaulting and evading paying Company Income Tax (CIT) close to 10 years now. The FIRS boss has taken the bull by the horns to see that all tax defaulters and evaders are brought into the tax net. According to him, “A number of multinational companies operating in Lagos State have not paid CIT since 2011 as they appeared to have perfected the illicit act of profit shifting to escape paying tax.” The disclosure by the executive chairman of FIRS in this regard is eye-popping. It shows how many corporate organisations had been denying the country the needed revenue through deliberate act of economic sabotage by evading or defaulting in the payment of CIT. It is sad that several multinational companies failed consistently to remit their tax to the FIRS by covering up their pioneer status in order to get tax exemption for a period of five years instead of three years as required by law, and they were allowed to have their way. It is instructive that only Nami-led management has demonstrated requisite courage and patriotism to go after such criminal defaulters. This is a huge plus to the Buhari administration’s efforts to enforce financial transparency and ease of doing business in the country.
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NIRSAL Ready To Finance Your Agribusiness

Are you a smallholder farmer, farmer leader or aggregator? NIRSAL Plc invites you to key into its Agro Geo-Cooperative model which enables sustainable access to governance, finance, quality inputs and structured markets for farming projects. The programme aims to create 16,000 Agro Geo-Cooperatives, ranging from 10 hectares to 20,001 hectares and more, on four million hectares of farmland. It will enrol about eight million farmers across Nigeria who are expected to produce about 12 million metric tonnes of Grain Product Equivalent (GPE) annually over the medium to long term. Community leaders, individuals, enterprises, corporate bodies, graduates, N-Power beneficiaries, active or retired leaders and farmers can access this programme. Participants in the ADP programme, World Bank FADAMA Programme, USAID Markets Programme, IFAD Value Chain Development Programme, World Bank Climate Adaptation and Business Support Programme, AfDB Agriculture Programme, DFID Propcom Maikarfi Programme, and Sassakawa Global 2000 Programme can also participate in the programme. Entrepreneurs involved or interested in the agribusiness sector are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to create employment and generate income, by supporting the productive activities of their self-organised Agro Geo-Cooperatives. Applicants for the programme must meet NIRSAL Plc’s eligibility requirements and be domiciled in or have access to their communities and farmers. Below is a listing of contact persons for the programme:
StateLocationFull NameEmailCUG Number
ABIAUMUAHIAANOSIKE Isaac Chijiokei.anosike@nirsal.com9070001663
ADAMAWAYOLAMAHMOUD Murtala Alhajim.mahmoud@nirsal.com9070001693
AKWA IBOMUYOAKULA Helen Hembadoonh.akula@nirsal.com9070001680
ANAMBRAAWKAALIGWEKWE Theodore Uzomat.ligwekwe@nirsal.com9070001359
DELTAASABAAZEBEOKHAI Imhokhaii.chukwudi@nirsal.com9070001369
BAUCHIBAUCHIGAMBO Hassan Abdulqadirh.gambo@nirsal.com9070001380
BEYELSAYENAGOAFABUNMI Samson Adeyemis.fabunmi@nirsal.com9070001683
BENUEBENUECHIKARA Igomu Sylvia Aweles.igomu@nirsal.com9070001608
BORNOMAIDUGURIBABAMALLAM Mohammed Habibm.babamallam@nirsal.com9070001591
CROSS RIVERCALABARUDUZELI Progress Ogbonofau.progress@nirsal.com9070001411
DELTAASABAAZEBEOKHAI Imhokhaii.chukwudi@nirsal.com9070001369
EBONYIABAKALIKIANOLIEFOH Clement Oramuluc.anoliefor@nirsal.com9070001250
EDOBENINOKWORI Patrick Akorp.akor@nirsal .com9070001391
EKITIADO-EKITIASHADE Ayorinde Michaela.michael@nirsal.com9070001337
ENUGUENUGUNEBO Darlington Nkemjikad.nebo@nirsal.com9070001446
GOMBEGOMBEAGEDE Jibrin Agabij.agede@nirsal.com9070001457
IMOOWERRIOSUJI Nkechi Letician.osuji@nirsal.com9070001633
JIGAWADUTSEAKANDE David Shayod.akande@nirsal.com9070001427
KADUNAKADUNABALA Nasiru Daudawan.daudawa@nirsal.com9070001514
KANOKANONGILERUMA Abubakara.ngileruma@nirsal.com9070001531
KATSINAKATSINAABUBAKAR Mohammed Matazua.matazu@nirsal.com9070001550
KEBBIBIRNIN KEBBIABDULLAHI Mikailum.abdullahi@nirsal.com9070001401
KOGILOKOJAYAHYA Ahmedy.ahmed@nirsal.com9070001581
KWARAILORINOBAFEMI Hassan Adeh.obafemi@nirsal.com9070001473
LAGOSIKEJAOLAIYA Adedeji Oladelea.olaiya@nirsal.com9070001571
NASARAWALAFIADILLI Noel Nathand.noel@nirsal.com9070001564
NIGERMINNATUNDE-GEGELE Abdulkareemt.gegele@nirsal.com9070001612
OGUNABEOKUTAILO Jumoke Georgianj.ilo@nirsal.com9070001261
ONDOAKUREALUKO Akinyelea.aluko@nirsal.com9070001347
OSUNOSOGBOAKANDE Omoyemi Adeniyio.akande@nirsal.com9070001623
OYOIBADANOSANEBI Kenneth Otuniyak.osanebi@nirsal.com9070001492
PLATEAUJOSLOT Florence Nimcitf.lot@nirsal.com9070001502
RIVERSPORT HARCOURTDOUGLAS Mabel Ayebatarim.douglas@nirsal.com9070001645
SOKOTOSOKOTOHARUNA Ibrahim Aliyuh.ibrahim@nirsal.com9070001655
TARABAJALINGOKARAMI Kelvin Rengshikk.karami@nirsal.com9070001493
YOBEDAMATURUABUBAKAR Aliyua.aliyu@nirsal.com9070001420
ZAMFARAGUSAUBARMU Sada Umars.barmu@nirsal.com9070001471
ABUJAFCTOLALEYE Ayodelea.olaleye@nirsal.com9070001547

Covid-19 Pandemic: Opportunity For A New Nigeria, By Godwin Emefiele

As many people are now aware, the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in China rapidly permeated and profoundly changed the world.
While this crisis is first and foremost a public health issue, which has claimed the lives of over 123,600 people worldwide, and counting, the economic damages are unprecedented on several fronts: Crude oil prices declined dramatically to as low as US$17 per barrel by the end of March, even before applying the discounts many oil exporters are offering; Stock valuations for the NSE-ASI, Nikkei, Dow Jones and FTSE-100 declined by an average of 23.8 percent between January and March 2020; Global airlines have lost about US$252 billion in revenues and across the broad range of industries from hospitality to services, the pain is growing.

These outcomes have expectedly thrown the global economy into a recession, the depth and duration of which is currently difficult to fathom. In fact, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts that the global economy would decline by 3 percent this year.

Around the world, countries have moved away from multilateralism and responded by fighting for themselves with several measures to protect their own people and economies, regardless of the spill-over effects on the rest of the world.

According to the World Customs Organisation, a total of 32 countries and territories, adopted stringent and immediate export restrictions on critical medical supplies and drugs that were specifically meant to respond to COVID-19. As of 10 April 2020, an updated count of total export restrictions by the Global Trade Alert Team at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland suggest a total of 102 restrictions by 75 countries.

On 4 March 2020, Germany announced an export ban that applied to all sorts of medical protection gear including breathing masks, medical gloves and protective suits. Around the same time, President Macron announced that France will requisition all face masks produced in the country, a de facto export ban. Between 8 February 2020 and 6 April 2020, India released eight (8) different export notifications banning several drugs and medical supplies including hydroxychloroquine, ventilators, personal protections masks, oxygen therapy apparatus, and breathing devices.

On 3 April 2020, the Trump Administration invoked the war-era US Defence Production Act to stop major US mask manufacturer, 3M, from exporting N95 respirator masks to Canada and Latin America. Fears of a long global recession have also led to worries about unprecedented global food insecurity, with concerns that agricultural production may be dislocated by containment measures that constrain workers from planting, managing and harvesting critical crops.

Rather than seek cooperative and global solutions, several countries have resorted to export restrictions of critical agricultural produce. According to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), about 37 countries have enacted various forms of food export restrictions in response to COVID-19, even in countries where average production exceeds domestic consumption.

For example, Vietnam, the world’s third largest exporter of rice, suspended granting rice export certificates until the country “reviews domestic inventories”. Russia, the world’s largest wheat exporter, announced a ten-day ban on the export of buckwheat and rice due to concerns over panic buying in local supermarkets.

What if these restrictions become the new normal? What if the COVID-19 pandemic continues in a second wave or another pandemic occurs in which all borders are shut and food imports are significantly restricted? What if we cannot seek medical care outside Nigeria and must rely on local hospitals and medical professionals? For how long shall we continue to rely on the world for anything and everything at every time?

What if these restrictions become the new normal? What if the COVID-19 pandemic continues in a second wave or another pandemic occurs in which all borders are shut and food imports are significantly restricted? What if we cannot seek medical care outside Nigeria and must rely on local hospitals and medical professionals? For how long shall we continue to rely on the world for anything and everything at every time?
Although these developments are troubling, they present a clear opportunity to re-echo a persistent message the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been sending for a long time, and at this time even more urgently so: We must look inwards as a nation and guarantee food security, high quality and affordable healthcare, and cutting-edge education for our people. For a country of over 200 million people, and projected to be about 450 million in a few decades, we can no longer ignore repeated warnings about the dangers that lie ahead if we do not begin to depend largely on what we produce locally. The security and well-being of our nation is contingent on building a well-diversified and inclusive productive economy.

When I became Governor of the Central Bank in June 2014, imports of rice, fish, wheat and sugar alone consumed about N1.3 trillion worth of foreign exchange from the Bank. My immediate question was: can we not produce these ourselves? After all, only a few decades ago, Nigeria was one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of many agricultural products like palm oil, cocoa and groundnuts. Today, we import nearly 600,000 metric tonnes of palm oil, whilst Indonesia and Malaysia, two countries that were far behind us in this crop, now combine to export over 90 percent of global demand. In 2017, Indonesia earned US$12.6 billion from its oil and gas sector but US$18.4 billion from palm oil. I believe that this pandemic and the immediate response of many of our trading partners suggest it is now more critical than ever that we take back control; not just control over our economy, but also of our destiny and our future.

Although these developments are troubling, they present a clear opportunity to re-echo a persistent message the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been sending for a long time, and at this time even more urgently so: We must look inwards as a nation and guarantee food security, high quality and affordable healthcare, and cutting-edge education for our people. For a country of over 200 million people, and projected to be about 450 million in a few decades, we can no longer ignore repeated warnings about the dangers that lie ahead if we do not begin to depend largely on what we produce locally. The security and well-being of our nation is contingent on building a well-diversified and inclusive productive economy.

In line with the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari, the CBN has indeed created several lending programmes and provided hundreds of billions to smallholder farmers and industrial processors in several key agricultural produce. These policies are aimed at positioning Nigeria to become a self-sufficient food producer, creating millions of jobs, supplying key markets across the country and dampening the effects of exchange rate movements on local prices.

This philosophy has been a consistent theme of the CBN’s policies over the last few years. At the 2016 Annual Bankers’ Dinner, I challenged the bankers that we needed to take decisive actions to fundamentally transform the structure of our economy. Throughout that speech, I talked about the damaging effects of Nigeria’s unsustainable propensity to import, and opined that it was high time we looked inwards and stopped using hard-earned foreign exchange (FX) to import items that we should produce locally. This determination, therefore, formed the bedrock of the Bank’s policy, which restricts access to FX for importers of many items. These sentiments were re-echoed at the 2017 edition of the same Bankers’ Dinner with specific examples of several companies that have benefited significantly from this policy of self-sufficiency. With President Buhari’s full support, we have continued to refine this policy to ensure that the best interest of Nigeria is served. Many times, the Bank has been accused of promoting protectionist policies. My answer has always been that leaders are first and foremost accountable to their own citizens. If the vagaries of international trade threaten their wellbeing, leaders have to react by compelling some change in patterns of trade to the greater good of their citizens.

That is why in response to COVID-19, we are strengthening the Nigerian economy by providing a combined stimulus package of about N3.5 trillion in targeted measures to households, businesses, manufacturers and healthcare providers. These measures are deliberately designed to both support the Federal Government’s immediate fight against COVID-19, but also to build a more resilient, more self-reliant Nigerian economy.

Only a few decades ago, Nigeria was one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of many agricultural products like palm oil, cocoa and groundnuts. Today, we import nearly 600,000 metric tonnes of palm oil, whilst Indonesia and Malaysia, two countries that were far behind us in this crop, now combine to export over 90 percent of global demand. In 2017, Indonesia earned US$12.6 billion from its oil and gas sector but US$18.4 billion from palm oil. I believe that this pandemic and the immediate response of many of our trading partners suggest it is now more critical than ever that we take back control; not just control over our economy, but also of our destiny and our future.

We do not know what the world will look like after this pandemic. Countries may continue to look inwards and globalization as we know it today may be dead for a generation. Therefore, as a nation, we cannot afford to continue relying on the world for our food, education and healthcare. The time has come to fully transform Nigeria into a modern, sophisticated and inclusive economy that is self-sufficient, rewards the hardworking, protects the poor and vulnerable, and can compete internationally across a range of strategic sectors.

In order to achieve this goal, we must begin immediately to support the Federal Government to:
1) Build a base of high quality infrastructure, including reliable power that can engender industrial activity;
2) Support both smallholder and large scale agriculture production in select staple and cash crops;
3) Create an ecosystem of factories, storages, and logistics companies that move raw materials for value-added production, and finished goods to markets;
4) Use our fiscal priorities to create a robust educational system that enables critical thinking and creativity, which would better prepare our children for the world of tomorrow;
5) Develop a healthcare system that is trusted to keep all Nigerians healthy, irrespective of social class;
6) Facilitate access to cheap and long-term credit for Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises (SMEs) and large corporates;
7) Develop and strengthen pro-poor policies that bring financial services and security to the poor and the vulnerable; and
8) Expedite the development of venture capitalists for nurturing new ideas and engendering Nigerian businesses to compete globally.

India is in a position to ban exports because it is producing critical drugs and medical supplies that the rest of the world needs. It also has companies that are global champions, and even merging with or acquiring peers in advanced nations. Why should this be out of our reach? We have the companies and the manpower. Some of the best brains in the world from the Americas to Europe and from Asia to Africa are Nigerians; driving global innovations in all fields. Nigerians are successful everywhere, and are already one of the most sought after immigrant groups in the United States. Now is the time to seize this opportunity and create an environment that empowers our people to thrive within our own shores. To this end, the Central Bank has developed a Policy Response Timeline to guide our crises management and the orderly reboot of the Nigerian economy.

Immediate-Term Policies (0-3 Months): In light of the fact that this crisis is an exogenous one thrust upon us without much warning, this phase reflects the government’s efforts at containment and mitigation. Although global cases are heading towards two million with over 123, 600 deaths as of 14 April 2020, we now have 343 cases, of which there have been 91 recoveries and sadly 10 deaths. With President Buhari’s continuing strong leadership, Nigeria can now test 1,500 persons per day in 12 Molecular Test Laboratories.

We believe that his strong leadership to impose early travel restrictions, lockdown, social distancing, and other measures have been greatly effective in curbing the spread of the disease.

More so, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) have helped the country stay ahead of the curve with increased testing capacity, provision of better-equipped isolation centres, and effective contact tracing.

Within this milieu, the CBN has responded in several ways, first by supporting hospitals and pharmaceutical industry with low interest loans to immediately deal with the public health crises; then by working with the private sector Coalition Against COVID (CACOVID) to support the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 across its response, while mobilizing palliatives for the poor and vulnerable.

Under this Immediate-Term Response, we have activated the following:
1) Ensure financial system stability by granting regulatory forbearance to banks to restructure terms of facilities in affected sectors;
2) Trigger banks and other financial institutions to roll-out business continuity processes to ensure that banking services are delivered in a safe social-distance regime for all customers and bankers;
3) Grant additional moratorium of one year on CBN intervention facilities;
4) Reduce interest rates on intervention facilities from 9 percent to 5 percent;
5) Create N50 billion targeted credit facility for affected households and SMEs;
6) Strengthen the Loan-Deposit Ratio (LDR) policy, which is encouraging significant extra lending from banks;
7) Improve FX supply to the CBN by directing all oil companies (international and domestic) and all related companies (oil service) to sell FX to CBN and no longer to the NNPC;
8) Provide additional N100b intervention in healthcare loans to pharmaceutical companies, healthcare practitioners intending to expand/build capacity;
9) Provide N1 trillion in loans to boost local manufacturing and production across critical sectors;
and 10) Engender financial inclusion by ensuring the poor and vulnerable are able, by all means necessary, through banks, microfinance, community and non-bank financial institutions, to access financial services to meet their basic needs.

Short-Term Policy Priorities (0-12 months): As soon as President Muhammadu Buhari and the Health authorities determine our Coronavirus Transmission Curve is flattening and many of the ongoing restrictions are eased, this will be the phase for repositioning the Nigerian economic space.

As part of the lessons from the current pandemic, we must ensure that that our value-added sector, the manufacturing industry is strengthened. Accordingly, the CBN will pursue the following policies in this phase:
1) Reinvigorate our financial support for the manufacturing sector by expanding the intervention all through its value-chain. In most cases, we will ensure that primary products sourced locally provide essential raw material for the manufacturing sector except where they are only available overseas;
2) With the support of the Federal Government, the CBN will embark on a project to get banks and private equity firms to finance home-grown and sustainable healthcare services that will help to reverse medical tourism out of Nigeria. By offering long-term financing for the entire healthcare value-chain (including medicine, pharmaceuticals, and critical care), banks will work with healthcare providers to consolidate on the current efforts to rebuild our medical facilities in order to ensure Nigeria has world class affordable hospitals for the people of Nigeria and those wishing to visit Nigeria for treatment;
3) The CBN will promote the establishment of InfraCo PLC, a world class infrastructure development vehicle, wholly focused on Nigeria, with combined debt and equity take-off capital of N15 trillion, and managed by an independent infrastructure fund manager. This fund will be utilized to support the Federal Government in building the transport infrastructure required to move agriculture products to processors, raw materials to factories, and finished goods to markets, as envisaged at the CBN Going for Growth Roundtable in March 2020; and
4) Continue to prioritize the provision of FX for the importation of machinery and critical raw materials needed to drive a self-sufficient Nigerian economy.

COVID-19 may have plunged us into a crisis of unprecedented proportions. But, as Winston Churchill once admonished, we must never let a crisis go to waste.

Medium-Term Policy Priorities (0-3 Years): Once the world returns to some new normal having tamed COVID-19 by a combination of vaccines and social distancing, and the Nigerian economy reopens fully for business, we will act quickly to enable faster recovery of the economy by targeted measures towards particular sectors that are able to support mass employment and wealth creation in the country. We will do so by focusing on four main areas, namely, light manufacturing, affordable housing, renewable energy, and cutting-edge research.

In manufacturing, for example, it is pertinent to note that Nigeria’s gross fixed capital formation is currently estimated at N24.55 trillion made up residential and non-residential properties, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, land improvement, research and development, and breeding stocks. Of this estimated value, machinery and equipment, which are the main inputs into economic production, are currently valued at only N2.61 trillion. In order to pursue a substantial economic renewal, including replacement of at least 25 percent of the existing machinery and equipment for enhanced local production, we estimate at least N662 billion worth of investments to acquire hi-tech machinery and equipment.

Therefore, the CBN will consider an initial intervention of N500 billion over the medium term, specifically targeted at manufacturing firms to procure state-of-the-art machinery and equipment and automated manufacturing models that would fast-track local production and economic rejuvenation, as well as support increased patronage of locally processed products such as cement, steel, iron rods, and doors, amongst several other products. The recent private sector investments in cement production using enhanced technology and automated manufacturing models is a good example of the kind of economic renewal we will be pursuing in this phase. We will develop a thorough screening process and stringent criteria for equipment types that would qualify for funding under this phase.

In order to boost job creation, household incomes and economic growth, we will focus our attention on bridging the housing deficit in the country by facilitating government intervention in three critical areas: housing development, mortgage finance, and institutional capacity.

We will pursue the creation of a fund that will target housing construction for developers that provide evidence of profiled off-takers with financial capacity to repay. The current identification framework in the banking sector using the Bank Verification Number (BVN) will be used to verify the information provided by the off-takers before the developer can access the funds.

We will consider ways to assist the Mortgage Finance sub-sector as well as build capacity at the State levels for their land administration agencies to process and issue land titles promptly, implement investment friendly foreclosure laws and reduce the cost of land documentation, as these have remained major inhibiting factors in the provision of affordable housing in the country.

Over the next three years, we will also support the financing of environmentally friendly energy production, as this has a tangential long-term health benefits. We will look at efforts to drive innovation and research in every sector, through our universities, research institutions, creative industry initiatives, and all other media of novelty and inventions.

In conclusion, I believe we must now envision and work toward a Nigeria with the cutting edge medical facilities to provide world class care to the sick and vulnerable, enable our universities and research institutions to provide the requisite education and training that is required to keep these ecosystems functioning sustainably and efficiently, and millions of Nigerians employed in meaningful and well-paying jobs.
This is the Nigeria that we must aspire to build.

COVID-19 may have plunged us into a crisis of unprecedented proportions. But, as Winston Churchill once admonished, we must never let a crisis go to waste.


*Godwin I. Emefiele, CON, is Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria

Intra-African Trade, Inner Core Of Afreximbank’s Vision And Strategy, Says Prof. Benedict O. Oramah

Intra-African Trade constitutes the inner core of our vision and strategy at Afreximbank. That is why we are actively promoting continental awareness and conscious awakening on the ideological, philosophical and economic imperatives of that development pathway.

Africa’s Economic Miracle May Be In Sight: Economic miracles occur once every few decades. During the 1970s to the 1980s, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan emerged on the world scene with a force that surprised even the most optimistic. The Asian Tigers, as they came to be known, moved from poverty to relative prosperity on a platform of export-led growth powered by rapid industrialisation hinged on light manufacturing and foreign direct investments, especially by Trans National Corporations (TNCs). These countries soon reached full employment, such that by the late 1980s and 1990s, tight labour markets raised wages rendering most of their labour-intensive manufactures uncompetitive in global markets.

China, with its large population and attendant low-wage labour force soon stepped in, drawing on the same playbook, but boosted by WTO-induced globalisation in the 1990s to achieve the most phenomenal economic miracle ever, with about 800 million people pulled out of poverty in less than two

decades. All of a sudden, a country which not so long ago could barely feed its people became a global economic powerhouse and the world’s factory. Since the 2000s, no nation or group of countries have achieved such phenomenal and rapid transformation as the South-East Asians did. There is a rising sentiment that it is time for another miracle and all eyes are on Africa.

This view has been expressed by many development experts and policy makers.

Between 2012 – 2014,Takamune Okihara, Chair of Mitsubishi UFJ Bank, told me at least on two occasions that Europe has had their time, so has America and Asia. It was therefore time for Africa. Even the great singer Beyonce, in her transcendental journey of musical reflection, also agrees.

But beyond those wishful expectations, all the ingredients are there for Africa to bolt away from decades of poverty. Demographics and natural resource endowments are two important elements that can potentially transform the economic fortunes of Africa. We just need to unlock their potentials.

Let’s for a moment explore the Power of Population and Demographics. In 1798, Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus wrote, in what became known as the Malthusian Specter or Malthusian Catastrophe, and I quote: “Famine seems to be the last, the most dreadful resource of nature. The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race.”

In essence, Reverend Malthus argued that uncontrolled population growth rate, would be catastrophic to man. He therefore proposed measures to curtail the growth of population. Recent evidence, however, suggests that Reverend Malthus might not have been entirely right. We know that high population can be a time-bomb just as it can also be an asset. It is the quality of the people that matter. Abundant highly skilled low wage labour powered the transformation of the Asian Tigers and China. We now know that quality large population is an asset because it creates a large labour pool and sizeable markets that can drive the growth of consumption and investments.

Africa is in the top league of the highly populated continents, with population of more than 1.3 billion people or 16 percent of world population. This is estimated to double by 2050 to account for 25 percent of world population. The unique feature of this population is that more than 77 percent is expected to be less than 40 years by 2035, with 45 percent between 15 and 40. Another interesting feature of this demographic distribution is that it is similar to those of the Asian Tigers, China and Japan at the time of their respective economic take off.

Today, there is so much talk about the youth bulge. Some are predicting Armageddon because of the rising youth population. I beg to differ because I know that in terms of population density Africa ranks third behind Asia and Europe

at 87 people per square mile.I am convinced that Africa’s rich youthful population can be an asset. The conventional wisdom is that Africa’s greatest asset are its natural resources. I say No, and argue that it is its people! However, just like any asset, the utility of our people will be dependent on their quality. We must create the conditions, the learnings that will convert our youth into men and women of action.

Eric Hoffer, the great American philosopher, once wrote and I quote: “In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned find themselves equipped to live a world which no longer exist”

Endowment Of Arable Land And Natural Resources: But besides its people, Africa is also highly endowed with natural resources. With a massive land area of over 30 million square km (20 percent of the world’s land area), it is home to 60 percent of uncultivated world arable land today and abundance of unpolluted surface and underground water. In addition to the vast arable land, the continent boasts of enormous amounts of mineral and agricultural resources, namely:

90 percent of global cobalt deposits, a critical mineral in a world that will increasingly be battery driven; 75 percent of world cocoa; 64 percent of the world’s manganese; 60 percent of global coffee; and 50 percent of the world’s gold; 50 percent of its phosphates; 50 percent of palm oil; 40 percent of the world’s platinum; 30 percent of the uranium; 8.7 percent of global oil production; and 7.1 percent of global proven gas reserves.

 Africa’s Development Tragedy As justification For Greater Regional Integration: One may ask:

i) Why a continent with so much endowments of human and natural resources continues to find itself at the lowest rungs of the development ladder?

ii) Why has the continent that appeared to have repeatedly won Nature’s or God’s lottery in terms of distribution of mineral deposits failed to cash-in?

iii) Why is there poverty in the midst of so much abundance in Africa?

iv) Why has a continent that boasted so many powerful Kingdoms in history, the Pharaohs in Egypt, the Old Mali Empire, the Benin Empire, the Kingdom of Menomatapa, fallen so far behind today?

To understand how Africa found itself in this unacceptable situation, I invite you to a brief historical excursion, starting with the pre-colonial period of the 14th to the 16th century. That time, many kingdoms thrived across Africa by trading amongst themselves as well as with Indians, Chinese, and Arabs and later the Europeans, especially the Portuguese and Spaniards. Historical records show that trading patterns in West Africa were so established that the Portuguese struggled to break into the networks. For instance, the Harvard Historian Prof. Akyeampong wrote that Blue Cloth and beads were exported from Benin Kingdom to the Gold Coast (present day Ghana).

It is this kind of trade that brought prosperity to old Benin Kingdom and Kilwa, off the coast of Tanzania; which made the Europeans to marvel when they first set foot on the shores of Africa. For instance the Portuguese seafarer, Lourenco Pinto, visited the Old Benin Kingdom. His astonishment made him write, and I quote: “Great Benin, where the king resides, is larger than Lisbon; all the streets run straight and as far as the eyes can see. The houses are large, especially that of the king, which is richly decorated and has fine columns. The city is WEALTHY and INDUSTRIOUS. It is so well governed that theft is unknown, and the people live in such security that they have no doors to their houses.”

With the abolition of slavery and advent of industrial revolution in the 1800s, the Metropolitan powers had two main goals, namely to secure a reliable source of raw materials as well as export markets for their manufactures. Colonialism set-in, founded on a strategy so well laid out in the writings of a former colonial Administrator, Mr Albert Sarraut (1872-1962). He wrote and I quote: “Economically, a colonial possession means to the home country simply a Privileged market whence IT WILL DRAW THE RAW MATERIALS IT NEEDS, DUMPING ITS OWN MANUFACTURES IN RETURN. Economic policy is reduced to rudimentary procedures of gathering crops and bartering them. Moreover, by strictly imposing on its colonial dependency the exclusive consumption of its manufactured products, THE METROPOLIS PREVENTS ANY EFFORTS TO USE OR MANUFACTURE LOCAL RAW MATERIALS ON THE SPOT, AND


It is thanks to the flawless execution of that strategy that today Africa is so fragmented such that it is the continent with the highest number of countries (55), with 84,000 kilometres of borders; it is no wonder that today Kenya imports hides and skin from outside Africa at a much higher cost than Burundi, nearby, exports the same item to the world. It is for the same reason that an average Nigerian knows far more about Europe than he or she knows about Cote d’Ivoire.

Colonialism ended some 60 years ago so we cannot continue to blame colonialism for Africa’s malaise. After all, Asia was also colonised but quickly rose to take advantage of the opportunity offered by independence. As we must use the lessons of history to shape our vision for tomorrow, the way forward for Africa must be to reverse-engineer the colonial strategy so aptly captured by Mr. Saurant. A key element of that reverse engineering is that we must trade amongst ourselves as Africans. It is by doing so that we can build industrial capacities and create a favourable environment for investment in regional infrastructure.

We cannot attract private investments into Africa’s infrastructure to bridge the 100 billion US Dollar per annum infrastructure financing gap unless a business case can be made for that. It is booming intra-reginal trade that can help make that case!


I must quickly add that the change the continent needs to achieve will not come easy. Between 50 and 70 years ago, the continent witnessed epic battles for political independence. Those who fought and won the continent its political independence knew that it was only the beginning of a long journey; that the final destination would be economic independence.

In my speech in Moscow in June last year on the occasion of Afreximbank’s

26th Annual General Meeting, I described what that struggle would demand of

us, and I quote : “A revolution is sweeping across the African continent without bloodshed or conflict. It is peaceful and will fundamentally alter our world, shatter old assumptions and reshape our lives. It is easy to under-estimate as it is not accompanied by banners or fanfare. The revolutionaries are of a different breed. Instead of being trained in military camps, the freedom fighters for this new battle are being trained in technical schools and universities; instead of fighting in trenches, this

battle will be fought in factory floors and tech incubation centres; instead of guns, the battle will be fought with ideas, hard work and investments.

“While bravery was required for the political struggle, courage is a necessity for the economic liberation struggle. Tech, and not armed guerrillas;       ideas and not bullets will constitute the potent forces for victory in this new struggle. And as with the political struggle, Africa needs partners that can support it to prevail. The partnership we seek is one beyond aid and grant, but onefounded on mutual respect and trust, win-win economic cooperation and pursuit of shared prosperity.”

I am pleased that our leaders have fired the first shot in that struggle. Against all odds, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement was signed in Kigali in March 2018 and by July 2019, it had achieved enough Ratifications to come into force. By July this year, trading will commence. For the first time, Africa has decided to take its destiny in its hands! It is a step that allows us to begin to rebuild the African economy and restore self-esteem to Africans; a step that will forever break down the 84,000 Km of  borders that divide the continent into small balkanised units.

A key economic argument in favour of the AfCFTA is that it will help African economies to industrialize and improve Africa’s share of global manufacturing output. Estimates by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) suggests that the AfCFTA could increase trade amongst African countries by more than 50 percent from current levels, while pushing regional trade levels up from 15 percent to 25 percent of global trade within a decade. In July this year, trading under the AfCFTA is expected to commence. When the time comes, we expect at least 30 countries that have so far ratified the Agreement to open their borders for intra-trade and investment flows.

Policy Proposals To Boost Intra-African Trade Under The AfCFTA: Late last year, I delivered two keynote speeches in Nigeria; one at the State dinner hosted by the Federal Government of Nigeria as part of the 59th Independence Anniversary Celebration, and the second at the Annual meeting of the Manufacturers Association of Nigerian (MAN). At both events, I emphasized that any country confronted with a potential change of massive proportions such as may emanate from theAfCFTA must put in place well-articulated short, medium- and long-term plan.

I proposed that in the short to medium term, Governments should focus on those issues that are likely to sustain enthusiasm for the AfCFTA, namely:

1)  Governments’ priority should focus on minimizing the fiscal revenue losses that the AfCFTA may engender. Afreximbank estimates that, at the continental level, AfCFTA-induced fiscal revenue losses could exceed US$4 billion per annum. Some countries use tariffs as a source of revenue while some others use it as an instrument of industrial policy. The Adjustment Facility under the AfCFTA largely targets countries in the former category.

2)  Governments should ensure that the private sector is well prepared to take advantage of the market opportunity the AfCFTA will throw open. In this regard, Governments should consider triggering an adjustment process for entities in sectors likely to be negatively impacted by the AfCFTA. Such adjustments may include support for retooling, improved access to credit among others.

3)  Availability of Trade Information is critical to tapping into market opportunities across the continent. The AfCFTA creates the legal basis for a potential pan-African market in goods and services but does not create the market. Governments must therefore, as a matter of short- term priority, endeavour to put in place mechanisms that will improve access to appropriate and credible trade information, for the private sector, interested in expanding their businesses to other African markets. It is critical that we recognize that the greatest constraint to expanding intra-African trade is lack of trade information and not necessarily the poor state of infrastructure. This is because the stock of infrastructure today carries about 1 trillion US dollars of total trade, of which intra-African trade amounts to only 160 billion US dollars.

4)  Although the AfCFTA offers an opportunity to industrialise and expand export manufacturing, it will be up to Governments and the private sector to seize the opportunity. The goods have to be produced competitively and traded. Access to markets is critical as no meaningful production can occur if goods produced cannot be sold. Governments should therefore consider the establishment, or create the environment for the emergence of private sector-led, Export Trading Companies (ETCs).

In economies where they exist, ETCs market the merchandise produced by SMEs around the globe, providing branding, sourcing market intelligence on behalf of the different manufacturers and serving as anchors for credit granting to the numerous manufacturing entities that they represent. The fact that informal traders account for 40 – 50 percent of Intra-African trade is, in my opinion, an evidence of institutional failure. If formal trading institutions exist, the informal trade will wane.

5) Branding is key and in the context of the AfCFTA it is important to build national brands for manufactures. Professional branding companies will be required but underpinning the branding should be the Promotion of Export Trading Companies to ensure that branded goods are distributed. For Nigeria, the successful Nollywood Industry can provide a platform for promoting Made in Nigeria brands, just as Marlon Brando made the denim Jean a global brand

6) The AfCFTA will also require that goods of high-quality standards be traded within the Free Trade Area. The quality, number and spread of testing, inspection and certification centres will determine the extent to which African countries can actively participate in the emerging continental market. Governments must therefore facilitate the emergence and strengthening of quality infrastructure facilities.

7)  Since financing is a critical success factor in exporting and trading generally, it is important that Governments strengthen national industrial/export development finance institutions.      The existing capacities in Africa are inadequate as evident in the combined total assets of African Multilateral Development Financial Institutions relative to Africa’s GDP, compared to China’s.

8) Last but not the least, Governments should consider creating an agency for AfCFTA perhaps under the Ministry of Trade and Industry. It is this agency that will be the arrowhead for achieving each country’s strategic objectives for membership of the AfCFTA.

Afreximbank’s Initiatives In Support Of The AfCFTA Implementation: Afreximbank on its own, and in partnership with the African Union and other Pan-African agencies, is actively supporting the implementation of the AfCFTAin many ways. Examples include the following:

a) Afreximbank has committed to disbursing an amount of US$25 billion on a revolving basis in support of Intra-African Trade between 2017 – 2021. The Bank has also launched an Afreximbank Trade Facilitation Facility (AFTRAF), through which it provides trade services/LC confirmation lines to African commercial banks to enable them support intra-African trade operations. Our target is to offer such Letter of Credit confirmation and trade services lines in an amount of Eight (8) billion US dollars to 500 African banks by 2021. Today, we have on-boarded close to 400.

b) Afreximbank has launched the first ever Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS), which will enable payment for intra- Africa trade in local currencies thereby reducing the foreign currency content of intra-regional trade. We estimate that this platform will save Africa over 5 billion US Dollars in intra-African Money remittance cost per annum and boost intra-African trade in creative products thereby growing youth employment.

c) In order to support countries likely to suffer fiscal revenue losses due to the removal of tariffs on imports from regional markets, Afreximbank has agreed with the African Union to put in place an AfCFTA Adjustment Facility amounting to up to 3.5 billion US dollars. We believe that it is this facility that will make it possible for many borders to remain open on July 1, 2020 when trading starts.

d) In 2018, Afreximbank launched the Fund for Export Development in Africa (FEDA) designed to provide equity and quasi equity capital in support of entities involved in intra-African trade and investments. This Fund is more patient than the typical Private Equity Fund and is intended to support equity investments in manufacturing, entertainment and creative industry; financial services and similar dynamic sectors.

e) Afreximbank has also launched a Project Preparation Facility (PPF) to make it easier for entrepreneurs to better prepare projects and bring them to bankability

f) In order to improve access to trade information and connectivity among African traders and corporates, the Bank is developing a Trade Information Portal that will aim to bridge the trade information and knowledge gap among African businesses regarding the potential trade and investment opportunities in the continent. In

addition, the Bank has launched a biennial Intra-African Trade Fair, that allows African corporates and Governments to showcase their goods and develop business relationships with other African buyers, investors,, etc. The first of this fair was held in Cairo, Egypt in December 2018.

We encourage Governments and the private sector to actively participate in this fair as it is a great opportunity to expand trade into other African markets. Over 1.000 exhibitors participated in 2018 with an amount of 32 billion US dollars in deals signed. The second edition will hold in Kigali, Rwanda during 1 – 7 September 2020.

g) Afreximbank is supporting the work of the African Union (AU) and African Regional Standards Organization (ARSO) to establish the necessary standards covering various sectors. Afreximbank is implementing an initiative to promote sound quality infrastructure across Africa to be branded Africa Quality Assurance Centres (AQACs). One such centre is currently under development in Ogun State, Nigeria.

h) The Bank in collaboration with the Obafemi Awolowo University

(OAU), Ile-Ife, Nigeria, in the process of creating a Centre for AfCFTA Studies.

The Centre, which will be hosted by the OAU and co-funded by Afreximbank, will coordinate all relevant research projects relating to the AfCFTA by African Universities and Research Institutions. Output of the research projects will hopefully support policy discussions and formulation at the AfCFTA Secretariat.

i) In partnership with Kings College Hospital London and the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Bank is developing the Africa Medical Centre of Excellence as a way of promoting improved quality of health care and medical research. This initiative involves the establishment and installation of world class tertiary care medical facilities for the diagnostics and treatment of complex diseases. The project is being constructed in Abuja. It is expected that when completed, the project will support the emergence of Abuja as a Medical Tourism Centre.

j) Africa has strong prospects to grow its fashion, art and entertainment industries. We are therefore working with African and international creative industry experts to promote the Creative Africa Exchange (CAX), an initiative to formalise and develop the continent’s currently nascent creative industry. We see this initiative as an important instrument for unleashing the power of Africa’s youth.

Conclusion: It is my hope that the AfCFTA will bring the much needed economic transformation that has eluded the continent for several decades. We look forward to mobilising partners, who share in our vision for Africa’s development to work with us in creating the “Africa We Want”.

* Prof. Benedict O. Oramah, President and Chairman of Board of Directors of Cairo, Egypt-based African Export-Import Bank, made this presentation in a keynote speech at the 17th CVL Annual Lecture and International Leadership Symposium in Lagos on February 6, 2020.

10 Macro Trends That Will Shape Nigeria In 2020 — KPMG

2019 growth remains weak.

2019 global GDP growth estimate revised down to by 0.3% to 3%, lowest level since the Global Financial Crisis.

Key drivers of 2019 economic performance

1. China’s tapering economic growth due to reduced aggregate demand

  • Regulatory tightening of shadow banking
  • Trade war with US.

2. Slow down in industrial output as a result of weak external demand

3. Widening global repercussion of trade tensions.

4. Global car production decline with huge impact on Germany.

5. Impact of increased uncertainty in business confidence and investment

Click to download and read the full report

How To Be A Billionaire, By Akinwunmi Adesina, AfDB President

When Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, President, African Development Bank, was Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture, he always expressed  the view that the nation’s young people are not the future but the present, that they can become as  wealthy as they choose if they set their minds to it and put their hands to the plough.

Dr. Adesina stressed his point during a speech, ‘Nigerian Youths, I Challenge You!’, at the 14th convocation ceremony of Bowen University, Iwo, Osun State, on November 2, 2019. Hear him:

I am delighted to be here today to deliver the convocation lecture. I’d like to congratulate the university on graduating another set of students that will shape the future of Nigeria, Africa and the world.
You prepare leaders through scholarship, knowledge and biblical principles. You set up your students on solid foundations. The storms and the waves may come, as they face life, but Bowen has prepared them to stand. Their anchors will hold in the storms of life.

I am a believer in Baptist education. I attended high school at Ejigbo Baptist High School. We sang from the Baptist Hymnal. I remember so well one of my favourite songs “I am pressing on the upward way, new heights I am gaining everyday… a higher plane than I have found, Lord plant my feet on higher ground”.

Oh, how I always cherished the words of that hymn, its call for us to reach for glory land. It always inspired me as well to reach out to higher ground here in life, by pressing on. Today, I ask you to press on to higher ground.

That is the kind of higher ground by the Nigerian Baptist Convention when it established Bowen University in 2001. Then, it had only 500 students. By 2017, it had 5,000 students. And all its programs are accredited by the Nigerian University Commission.

One of my favourite scriptures is the parable of talents. One had 5 and invested and doubled to 10. Another had 2 talents and doubled to 4. One had one talent but buried it. When the master came he praised the first two and gave them more. He berated the third one for not investing his talents.

So, let’s talk about investing your talents through entrepreneurship.

Universities are known as citadels of leaning. They are reservoirs that nourish the mind, sharpen a sense of inquiry, unlock intellectual curiosity. You are taught to question things, to always ask why and why not, to find alternative pathways and solutions.

In my days at the university, you got a job immediately after you graduated. Your future was set.
No longer. The graduate today is graduating into a world of uncertainty. Over 13 million young people enter the job markets each year but only 3 million get jobs. Africa will have the largest number of youths joining the labour market by 2030 than all the world taken together.

I took a look at your website and noticed that according to the Stutern Nigerian Graduate Report, 2018, 60 per cent of Bowen graduates are employed. Two things stood out to me. The probability of getting employed is 60 per cent. Second, your graduates are working for others, though it did not say what kinds of jobs they have. But one thing is missing: it did not talk about how many of the students were entrepreneurs, who created businesses, employing others: Job creators, not job hunters.

This is the time to remember the song above, and press on to higher ground. That higher ground is not to depend on others to employ you. The higher ground is for you to be job creators. The key to that is entrepreneurship.

Scott Belsky, the Founder of Behance said: “It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen”.
How true! How pertinent! Indeed, it is entrepreneurship that makes ideas happen.

To be a successful entrepreneur you need some attributes that you were not taught in school. The key one is perseverance. Perseverance is defined as “persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success”.

Steve Jobs said: “I am convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from non-successful ones is pure perseverance”.

The university system does not teach you to make mistakes. You are to be perfect. You got an F, your future was finished. Really? Maybe not. Do not get me wrong, I am not advocating failure. But to be an entrepreneur get used to failures.
You will not succeed at your first idea. Indeed your idea may lead you many times to want to quit. But don’t.

Think about Thomas Edison who developed the light bulb. He was said to have failed 1,000 times when trying to develop the light bulb. He had a different view: he said no, I did not fail 1,000 times, the development of the light bulb required 1,000 steps”. What a perspective.

Albert Einstein said: “Anyone that has never made a mistake has never tried anything new”.

Universities should shift away from rote teaching into allowing students to experiment, try things, put ideas to work, and innovate.

To do this, universities need to have structured institutional arrangements for supporting innovations. In the US universities set up offices for innovation development and commercialisation of innovations developed by universities.
Developing patents is not enough. Patents must lead to business and that can only happen through supportive environments for them to thrive. Setting up university foundries is a good way to achieving this.

Take Purdue University. It runs a foundry that supports its students to turn their ideas into businesses.
Stanford university has programmes in entrepreneurship for students, start-up garages where ideas are tested and venture studios that it uses to connect graduate students to a world of ideas, other innovators, community of entrepreneurs, including its own alumni.

How many students here have taken courses on entrepreneurship? How many even know about venture capital or angel investors?
By the way these are not angels in the Bible, just so we are on the same page!

I read a book while I was a student in the Christian union fellowship in the university undergraduate days called “Angels on Assignment”. It talks about how God sends angels to help us in difficult situations.
In the world of business, for your ideas to be turned into a business generating money, as a start-up you will need angel investors. They size up your ideas, your business, value your business and provide financing, usually convertible debt or debt they convert to shareholding.

While God has angels watching over billions of people without knowing, angel investors watch over business ideas, looking for what may work. Where there are no ideas that can thrive into viable businesses, you will not find angel investors.

Now, how many angel investors have you seen on your campus? You can measure the likelihood of a university generating wealth by whether you see angel investors hanging around your campus. If you don’t find them, check yourself: you may not be driving and nurturing entrepreneurship and innovation. You may not thriving. You may be missing great opportunities to turn the university into a hub of innovations that will lead to successful big businesses.

And women are great entrepreneurs. Just take a look at women in Nigeria. They are very enterprising. Everywhere you look you see them hard at work. Women run Nigeria!

Young female students deserve special entrepreneurship programs to unleash their potential.
Think about the case of We@Yale that was created to specifically support women entrepreneurs at Yale University to launch 500 business ventures in five years.
No bird can fly with one wing. When women’s potential is fully unlocked, Nigeria will fly with two wings.
The African Development Bank is supporting entrepreneurship programs in African universities.

One example is the Rwanda Institute of Science and Technology, a collaborative program on Masters in ICT, jointly with Carnegie Mellon University in the US. With $40 million support from the Bank, the school is world class. And 100 per cent of their students get jobs even before they graduate, with many setting up their own ventures.

Such is the case of Clarisse Irigabiza, a student who set up her own IT business, and sold it for $21 million at the age of 27. What did the university do to help her? World class education, yes. But much more: exposure to entrepreneurship.

Rwanda has set up with our support the Rwanda Innovation Fund to support its young entrepreneurs. The university is linked to the Kigali Innovation City, a modern tech enabling hub linked to universities to help ideas grow, to turn ideas into innovations, and turn innovations into thriving businesses.

One of the important areas ripe for entrepreneurship is the agriculture sector.

One of the young people in Nigeria I am very proud of is Dr.Tope Aroge. I met him when I was Minister of Agriculture and provided him a grant of $5 million Naira. He is a medical doctor, now farmer. You may say wow! Yes, go ahead.
You are wondering why did he change from being a medical doctor to farming? That’s because you do not know that the size of food and agribusiness in Africa by 2030 will be worth $1 trillion. Yes, you heard me right: $1 Trillion dollars.

I did not say Naira. Today, Tope has a 300 ha farm, and he has set up a high quality cassava flour/ industrial starch processing factory which has a 6,000 tonnes capacity. He is an agricultural entrepreneur. Some of you should be like him. Here is why: The future millionaires and billionaires of Africa will not come from oil and gas, but from agriculture sector. So, universities should move beyond agricultural science, to agriculture as a business.

That is exactly what the Wageningen University in Netherlands is doing. It has food-manufacturing companies, including Nestle, the world’s largest food manufacturing company; research and innovation centres located on its campus, investing tens of millions of dollars. No wonder it is ranked number one in the world for agriculture.

The ranking of the 100 most innovative universities is instructive. US universities have 45; African universities have none. Stanford University for the past several years have consistently ranked number one. Others in top ranks are Yale, Harvard and MIT. In the UK you have Imperial College.

Listen to a quote on Stanford by David M. Ewalt published just few days ago: “Located in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, Stanford University has played a key role in the development of our networked world. In the early 1970s, Stanford professor Vint Cerf co-designed the TCP/IP protocols that became the basic communication standard for the Internet; and in 1991, physicists at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center deployed the first world wide web server outside of Europe. The university’s faculty and alumni have founded major tech companies including Google, Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems.

A 2012 study by the university estimated that companies formed by Stanford entrepreneurs generate so much revenue that if they formed an independent nation, it would rank among the 10 largest economies in the world.

The lesson is clear: universities must understand the needs of the private sector and look for how to drive technologies, innovation and entrepreneurship to meet those opportunities. That’s the kind of win-win partnerships that the private sector is looking for from universities.

The world today and more so in the future is and will be dominated by science, technology and innovations. With the fourth industrial revolution, there is rapid advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, automation and quantum data analytics.

It is not data that will control the world, it is those who control data. Think of it: every time you use Google, WhatsApp a friend, post on Instagram or Facebook your data has been collected.

While they offer you nice networking social media they are mining your data. Chinese universities are surging forward in the field of artificial intelligence, with rapid research in medical sciences, neurosciences, machine learning and big data analytics.

Listen to a recent piece by Sawahel and Sharma: “Chinese universities make up 17 out of top 20 academic players in artificial intelligence”.

Africa is getting itself positioned to improve its relevance in this space. The African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) is becoming a significant platform to strengthen science, technology and mathematical sciences.

Start-ups are emerging in Africa. In 2015, Africa had 3,500 new tech-related ventures and $1 billion in venture capital. By 2019, 6,500 tech start-ups have been established, with $2.27 billion investments in tech start-ups.
The continent’s Internet of Things (IOT) is estimated to be $12.6 billion by 2021 in Africa and Middle East. By 2019 financing for Big Data start-ups inched to $9.8 million.

So what does it all mean? Let me start with the lesson from the Bible. It says to your faith add… My question to you is: what are you adding to your education?
Today, I ask you to add new skills, entrepreneurship, and make the university not just about knowledge, but about transformative knowledge, one that is enabled to create the next great businesses for the world.

Transformative knowledge is best captured by the World Economic Forum on human capital: “The knowledge and skills people possess that enable them to create value in the global economic system”.

This is quite instructive! We must not look at knowledge in terms of local environments. Knowledge, to be transformative, must also have global relevance.

You can measure the extent of progress of nations by how much they spend on research and development. The most innovating country in Africa is South Africa. Not surprisingly its universities are doing much better on innovations. A report about to be released by the African Development Bank found that of 24 universities surveyed, 23 have technology transfer offices.
Today, South Africa has developed the largest 3D printer in the world. This is already positioning it to be able to be competitive in industrial use, such as to develop parts for airplanes and shape aeronautics.

Despite this, our review of the readiness of countries for the use of innovations as drivers of growth showed a pattern: of 16 African countries looked at, on a score of 0-100, they all scored between 3.28 to 5.37. On a scale of 0-100, Nigeria is at 3.68.

What this tells us is clear: Nigeria needs to urgently spend a lot more on research and development. That’s what others are doing.
Take for example the case of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. They have just set up the Mohamed bin Zayed University for Artificial Intelligence; the world’s first University dedicated only to Artificial Intelligence. It will train masters and PhD students. And they already have over 3,000 applicants, drawing the best professors and innovators from across the world.

And guess why? They recognise that the size of the Artificial Intelligence market will be worth $15.7 trillion by 2030; just eleven years from now. Dubai, which Nigerians flock to today, as consumers, is already building itself to the AI hub for innovation and entrepreneurship in the world.
Only those that see the future will invest for the future. Only those who see the future can move to higher grounds.

My favourite Baptist hymnal echoes in my mind. Lord, please set our feet on higher ground. O Lord, please set our nation, Nigeria, on higher ground.

This is not just a prayer. It is something I believe in very strongly. This is what led me to donate $1.1 million, representing the combined prize monies and matching funds from my 2017 World Food Prize Award and my 2019 SunHak Peace Prize to create the World Hunger Fighters Foundation, to support the youth entrepreneurs in food and agriculture.

And how excited my wife, Grace and I, were two weeks ago to unveil our first set of 10 Fellows – called Borlaug-Adesina Fellows – at the World Food Prize in Iowa, in the United States of America.
They are great talents, just like those I see in front of me here today.

The youth are not the future. They are the present. Our collective responsibility is to prepare the youth to thrive today to drive the future, through entrepreneurship.
So, what is the path to the future for entrepreneurship and universities. Let me offer seven short suggestions.

First, all students in universities must be supported to become entrepreneurs. Not only grades should matter. All must pass the entrepreneurship requirement. That way, universities become knowledge transmitters, as well as entrepreneur developers.

Second, universities should set up technology business incubator and innovation hubs. They should be connected to venture capital and angel investors.

Third, governments should set up financial systems that support young people. Instead of talking about youth empowerment, we should focus on youth investment, for the future. Governments should set up Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks. They will be banks that support hope, not those that hinder hope. Banks by the youth, run by the youth, for the youth.

Fourth, private sector should be encouraged to locate research, technology and innovation centres on university campuses. Students should be supported to have internships in these centres. Universities should set up endowed funds to invest in ventures of their students.

Fifth, what is not measured does not get done. The measure of the growth of countries should not just be GDP. Nobody eats GDP. Rather, we must begin to measure the contribution of the youth to the GDP – what I call Y-GDP. And that can only happen when we support small and medium sized enterprises of the youth.

Six, Nigeria needs to set up a National Science and Innovation Fund, devoting about 20 per cent of its oil earnings to driving innovation for the faster tech-enabled growth of Nigeria to power the Nigeria of the future.

Finally, we must believe in the youth. Faith is the evidence of things hoped for and the substance of things not yet seen. Our hope must be in the youth. And that hope must be brought quickly from the future into the present. For hope delayed, is promise denied.

As I look around here today, I see hope. I see a generation destined for success. I see a cohort of graduates, prepared to be global change makers.

Go ahead and become entrepreneurs! Take on the future from today. Reach for the stars. Or better still, become the stars yourselves!

Lift your eyes to the hills, for your help comes from God, the maker of heavens and earth. He will not suffer your feet to be moved.
Instead he will set your feet on higher ground!