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Pick and mix in Nigeria’s response to coronavirus – FBNQuest

The coronavirus knows no boundaries, so governments across the world are struggling to protect their populations and their economies as best they can.

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Pick and mix in Nigeria’s response to coronavirus - FBNQuest

The coronavirus knows no boundaries, so governments across the world are struggling to protect their populations and their economies as best they can.

In advanced economies, the focus has been monetary and fiscal, along with measures of social control.

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In Nigeria, the lead role to date has been taken by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). It has cut the interest rate on its own credit interventions to 5% and launched a one-year moratorium on principal payments. It has also launched new ones targeted at manufacturing (to encourage import substitution) and healthcare.

A selection of local pharma companies will receive priority funding, both naira and FX, to access raw materials and boost domestic production. It will be a challenge to secure those materials since many governments have imposed export bans to conserve stocks of what are now seen as strategic goods.

The CBN already has a prominent role as a lender to the real economy. Its latest statement of assets and liabilities from October 2019 show unspecified other assets of US$12.6 billion in a balance sheet total of US$80.0 billion, converted at the current NAFEX exchange rate. This development finance may not conform to orthodox definitions of central banking and some will say that the impact of the CBN’s lending on its borrowers is less than that of the deposit money banks. Yet the response to a crisis is to wheel out the big guns with ammunition to spare.

READ MORE: Nigerian Eurobonds Weaken as Trade war Depresses Oil Prices

The FGN does not have huge resources to throw at the challenge. Rather, it has to scale down its 2020 budget in view of the crashing oil price and is said to be basing the new version on an average oil price of US$30/b rather than the previous US$57/b. Oil revenue collection of N2.64trn looks unattainable on the basis of both assumed price and output, but projections for non-oil taxes are also vulnerable in view of the decline in consumption due to lockdowns.

Its briefings have indicated that it looks to remove N1.5 trillion in spending from the existing budget. The priority of the FGN will be to pay salaries and meet debt-service obligations. Personnel spending is set at N2.83 trillion in the budget, a steep increase on the outturn of N1.74 trillion in January-September 2019. The rise will be due largely to the higher national minimum wage. The loser will surely be capital items in the budget, set originally at N2.46 trillion.

READ MORE: Nigerian cinemas count loses in Q1 2020, amid COVID-19 lockdown

Since there are limits to the firepower of the big guns, the authorities will turn to borrowing. The DMO alluded to the budget reworking when it released its issuance calendar for FGN bonds in Q2 2020, which it based on the current figure of N745bn for new domestic borrowing. It also noted that the approved new external borrowing of N850bn could, subject to authorization, be raised in the domestic market.

The Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed, told the media yesterday that the FGN is to approach the IMF, the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB) for a total of US$6.9 billion to soften the impact of the virus. Details are thin but both the Fund and the Bank have set aside funds for this purpose outside their regular lending programmes. Both Washington institutions have indicated that their funds should be available for (relatively) rapid disbursement.

Gregory Kronsten

Head, Macroeconomics & Fixed Income Research, FBNQuest

07 April 2020

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Post Covid19: Global Leaders at UBA Africa Day Conversations Seek Economic Recovery

“What we need (for this crisis) is something unusual, it is not business as usual. It is not marginal action, it is radical action.” -Donald Kaberuka

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Global leaders at the second edition of United Bank for Africa (UBA) African Day Conversations, have emphasised the need for meaningful collaborations between governments and the private sector as a panacea for the quick recovery of the economy of the African continent post-Covid-19.

The leaders which included the President of Liberia, H.E George Weah; United States Senator Chris Coons; the President & Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African Export–Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK), Professor Benedict Okey Oramah; President, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer; President spoke on Monday at the virtual Leadership Panel which was moderated by the Chairman, UBA Plc, Tony Elumelu.

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Other leading voices who made up the panel were the Founder, Africa CEO Forum, Amir Ben Yahmed; the Secretary-General of the African Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP)H.E George Chikoti; Administrator, United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Achim Steiner and Donald Kaberuka.

While moderating, Elumelu, who is also the Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, spoke on the need to mobilise everyone and explained the necessity to discover a more fundamental solution to Africa’s challenges through collaborative efforts.

This is the time for us to deal with the situation we have and also forge a better situation for everyone, acting again collectively,” he said. “This is not the time for finger pointing but for collaborative effort by governments and organizations to fight the pandemic globally.”

Continuing, Elumelu pointed out that all hands must be on deck if the African continent is to have a quick recovery from the pandemic, adding “There is need to flatten the curve, we need global co-operation to stem global depression. Africa requires a large stimulus package, and we need long-term solutions to prevent a cycle of debt.”

In his submission, the Liberian President, George Weah, established how collaborations worked in his government in an attempt to stem the sufferings brought about the coronavirus pandemic.

“In Liberia we have taken measures to ease the financial burden on vulnerable business in the informal sector by providing small loan assistance to SMEs and traders. In addition, we are working with commercial banks to manage the repayment of loans as well as to create stimulus packages for citizens.”

On his part, US, Senator Chris Coons, said, “It is important to take a moment to look at how African leaders have reacted to the pandemic. In order for us to recover from this pandemic, we must develop a vaccine that is free and affordable and freely distributed so that full economic activities can return. There are ways we can invest in debt relief, invest in infrastructure, and human development. This is no time to be looking backwards. We recognise the power of collective collaboration on the continent.”

While pointing out that the pandemic poses an opportunity for Africa to be independent and promote its growth and development as a people without external help; Prof. Benedict Okey Oramah, on his part, said  COVID 19 has taught Africa that there comes a time when every group of people will fend for themselves.

He called for the swift implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, adding, “The priority of government should be to make sure that the AfCFTA gets implemented without delay. If there was any doubt about the importance of that agreement, this pandemic has told us that this is the way to go.”

Continuing, Oramah said, “The pandemic has shown so many weaknesses we have across our continent. We know that hunger is looming if we do not do anything. If we allow hunger to take over from the COVID 19 pandemic, we will begin to see political problems filling in. For Africa the problems go beyond health challenges to other areas such as food supply. Hunger is looming and if action is not taken, Africa will see political problem. Africa has become the epicenter of the economic devastation that this pandemic has unleashed upon us.”

While disclosing that Afrexim has made available $200million to supply fertilizers and grains amongst others across Africa, the Afrexim boss added that “If Africa allows hunger takeover the people, it will see an increase in insecurity, which will take a long time to overcome.”

George Chikoti of ACP, said that the huge task of economic recovery on the continent, rests on both the government and the private sector. “The responsibility of COVID-19 does not rest on the government alone, the private sector needs to play a big role in lifting the burden of the pandemic. African governments need to accept the support of the Private Sector in alleviating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa,” he said.

“We have been able to release $25m to all member states. One of the major challenges is to make sure that in all countries, we have agricultural activity and high productivity. What we should learn from the impact of this pandemic is that the international community can look at how well they can fund all these initiatives that come from our countries,” Chikoti added.

Achim Steiner of the UNDP noted that Digital connectivity is very essential as it is a crucial opportunity to connect all schools across the continent, adding that emphasis on Healthcare is also very important. “Digital connectivity is very crucial to connect schools to the internet. We need to address inequality; also, the virus has put a spotlight on Africa’s healthcare system. Africa needs to look at intermediate strategies like micro-insurance to ramp up this sector. Healthcare has the ability to make a large percentage of the occupation fall into extreme poverty.

“What we need to look at is to find a way for government as a regulator and also as an investor, to leverage private sector investment into these areas” Steiner said.

Peter Maurer, President, ICRC, said there is the need to look at pandemics as part of a broader health system which needs stabilisation; A lot of vulnerable populations in Africa have been heavily infected by the pandemic. “We must do more than life-saving. This pandemic has illustrated the weakness of health, water, sanitation, and social systems, and we have to heavily invest into the stabilization of these systems.

Throwing more light on this, Maurer said, “Two things need to follow after live saving during the pandemic. First, the pandemic has illustrated the weak situation of health, water and food systems and we need to heavily invest both by the public and private sectors to stabilize the health sector. Secondly, investment has always gone into the more developed parts of Africa and not the fragile parts. We need Private Public Partnerships and investments by multi-corporate institutions to develop these areas” he noted.

Amir Yahmed said the crisis is going to be a super accelerator of already existing trends. “We have to get away from the commodity driven model which has failed in creating prosperity. Secondly, self-reliance should be one of the major objectives. The pandemic is wake up call for Africa – Creating new streams of revenue and self-reliance by the African continent.

“We need to use this crisis to take Africa to the next level. This crisis is going to be a super accelerator of already existing trends. I think it has to be a wake-up call for us to attain goals we haven’t reached. Create new revenues for the economy. We also need to attain self-reliance. Self reliance is an important goal. Africa manufactures [only] 2% of what it produces. We need to use this crisis to take Africa to the next level. Invest in digital infrastructure, digital education, agriculture is another opportunity we need to grab. We need to get the AFCTA working,” Yamed said.

Donald Kaberuka on his part opined that “What we need (for this crisis) is something unusual, it is not business as usual. It is not marginal action, it is radical action.”

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Global Finance Names Ecobank Most Innovative Bank in Africa

Ecobank is named the most innovative bank in Africa at the eighth Global Finance annual awards, the Innovators 2020 honoring entities

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Ecobank Nigeria, Global Finance Names Ecobank Most Innovative Bank in Africa

Global Finance has named Ecobank as the most innovative bank in Africa. The announcement was made at the eighth Global Finance annual awards, the Innovators 2020, honoring entities that regularly identify new paths and design new tools in finance.

Categories in the award include Top Innovations in Corporate Finance, Payments, Trade Finance, Cash Management, Islamic Finance, with Winners selected from different regions of the world. The classes of award comprised Most Innovative Banks in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Central & Eastern Europe, Latin America, Middle East, North America and Western Europe; The Most Innovative Fintech Companies in Asia-Pacific, Central & Eastern Europe, North America, and Western Europe; and The Best Financial Innovation Labs

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At the virtual awards announcement, Anita Hawser, European Editor at Global Finance and Lead, Global Finance Awards evaluation team, noted that companies recognized at the Innovators 2020 significantly stood apart.

She said the review panel looked at innovation in the context of product or process innovation, as they were ultimately more concerned with the impact of innovation in terms of creating value for customers or addressing a specific need, like speeding up lending or credit review process for small businesses; enabling companies to deposit cheques remotely and not having to visit the branches.

According to herthese are innovations that significantly reduce the time or cost of companies to perform financial tasks and really transform customers’ business lives helping them operate more effectively in a significantly challenging business and economic environment.

In his remark, Ade Ayeyemi, Ecobank Group CEO said: “We are pleased to be recognised as the “Most Innovative Bank in Africa” by Global Finance. This attests to  the strength of our brand in multiple countries across Africa, our unique pan-African platform, and our innovative banking products and solutions made possible by the success of our digital transformation journey.

(READ MORE: U.S.A calls for an independent probe of AfDB president, Akinwumi Adesina)

With a larger African footprint than any other bank operating in West, Central, East, and Southern Africa, Ecobank is the only bank that has banking operations that spans 33  African countries, operating a truly integrated African network.

That is One unified integrated Ecobank Mobile Banking App, that works seamlessly across all 33 operating countries in Africa; One Ecobank Omni and Omni Lite serving  Multinationals and SMEs in Africa; One Rapidtransfer app that breaks down country borders and allows the diaspora community sends money directly to their loved ones, instantly and affordably across Africa; One Ecobank Online Banking platform that can be easily accessed across 33 African countries.

The Ecobank Group’s unique and largest pan-African platform is designed to help unlock the opportunities of the continent, for the benefit of the continent, through standardization, thereby enabling regional integration, and trade and investment across borders. 

With the Group’s sterling performance, it has been severally recognized as ‘Best Retail Bank in Africa 2019’ at African Banker Awards; Most Admired Financial Services Brand in Africa 2019 by Brand Africa 100; Best Digital Bank in Africa – 2017 by Euromoney Awards; Best Retail Bank and Innovation in Banking both in 2018 by the African Banker Awards amongst others.

 

 

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Africa’s Post-Covid: Elumelu Moderates as Presidents of Senegal, Liberia, US Senator Coons, others Convene at UBA Africa Day Conversations 2020

Tony Elumelu would moderate a high-level leadership panel , to discuss Africa’s economic recovery in the 2020 edition of UBA’s Africa Conversations.

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UBA, Tony Elumelu donates technology centre to AAU, Elumelu says Covid-19 Presents Opportunity to Reset Africa, Africa's Post-Covid Economic Recovery: Elumelu Moderates as Presidents of Senegal, Liberia, US Senator Coons, other Global Leaders Convene at UBA Africa Day Conversations 2020

The President of Senegal, H.E. Macky Sall, President of Liberia, H.E George Weah and the United States Senator Chris Coons will form part of a high-level leadership panel to be moderated by the Chairman, United Bank for Africa (UBA) and Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, to discuss Africa’s economic recovery in the 2020 edition of UBA’s Africa Conversations.

The African Presidents and global leaders will be joined on the panel by other global leaders including the President & Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK), Professor Benedict Okey Oramah; President, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer and President and Founder, Africa CEO Forum, Amir Ben Yahmed.

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With over 60% of Africans living below the poverty line, the pandemic poses an existential threat to Africa’s economic growth and this session will define the lessons learned and the roadmap to economic growth and sustainability.

Together, the leading voices will speak on Monday, May 25th, 2020, on the theme ‘UBA Africa Day Conversations 2020: Growth, Jobs, and Sustainable Development Amidst a Global Pandemic,’ This will be the second edition of the symposium organised annually by UBA, in celebration of Africa Day.

(READ MORE: UBA Delivers Impressive Returns on Investment, as Shareholders Applaud Bank’s Support in Fight against COVID-19)

The open event will be held virtually starting at 3 pm WAT and interested participants can register on the UBA website here.

Africa Day is celebrated worldwide on May 25th, to showcase the diversity and beauty of Africa and its people.  The United Bank for Africa, with its pan-African footprint spanning 20 African countries, New York, Paris, and London, continues to lead the conversation and focus on the the development, growth, and unity of the continent.

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