African economy: Elumelu urges leaders on enabling environment


.As UBA drives growth with investment in technology

As part of effort in achieving poverty free continent, the Chairman Heirs Holding Plc, Mr. Tony Elumelu has called on African leaders to develop the continent through provision of enabling business environment, so as to unlock embedded potentials of entrepreneurship and Small Business Enterprises (SMEs) across the 54 countries in Africa.

This is even as the Managing Director, United Bank for Africa (UBA); CEO Anglophone, UBA, Mr. Oliver Alawuba; CEO, Francophone and Executive Director, UBA, Mr. Yinka Adedeji, explained the lender’s determination to further grow across Africa with investment in technology to enable its customers transact and enjoy financial services at the comfort of their homes.

Speaking with journalists from across African countries in Lagos, Elumelu, said that Africa leaders need not to necessarily provide job for everyone but to provide enabling business environment for SMEs and entrepreneurs to succeed.

This was because entrepreneurship is regarded as a bottom-up solution to economic growth and development, however, Elumelu believed focusing on empowering the individual, who in turns creates hope and opportunity in his or her community, was critical.

“Everywhere I go on our continent, I meet young Africans, who are leveraging technology to create innovative solutions to address both local and global problems, in sector as diverse as agriculture, healthcare, financial services and manufacturing”, he explained.

He however, pointed out that Africa as a whole need more investment, more capital, and agents, financial agents and intermediaries that helps in developing the economies across the continent.

Speaking on UBA activities in the continent, he said: “As a group, we say that, we are Africans, born in Africa, brought up in Africa, do business in Africa and we do well in Africa and so we need to touch Africa in ways that is most impactful and that is to help Africa to develop through investments.”

“Our young ones who have great idea, but unfortunately don’t have the source to translate this ideas to action that can help to develop our country, and that is why we have the Elumelu foundation, helping to propagate, helping to spread prosperity, helping to alleviate poverty, helping to put jobs on the market for our people and helping to address intractable challenges that we face in our community, solutions that can help fashion those who face these problems”, he said.

On his part, Group Managing Director/CEO, Kennedy Uzoka, said: “UBA is almost 70 year in operation; and when we talk about 70 year uninterrupted operation for a truly African bank, and that is why for us in UBA, we are very proud because as we can go from North to West to South to East, everywhere across Africa, you will find a lot of successful companies but the question is how many of them have continued to be successful.”

“We want to change that narrative that Africans can actually run successful companies for centuries, and recognize beyond the continent, such as coca cola that has gone across the world. We want African banks to be that entity that is recognized across the globe.

We operate today in 19 African countries, the whole of West Africa, Central Africa, and East Africa. And we also are the only Sub-Sahara African bank that operates in the United State”,he explained.

Also, Group Head, Digital Banking, Dr. Yinka Adedeji, noted that Africa has a chance to meet up in terms of technology more than what we see in the western world.

For instance, in the past the number of branches that we have is what you use as a bank to say how big your bank is, but this days our motion is going backward, we are beginning to see some banks in Africa actually shorting down and in exchange they are building technical capability that will enable customers not to go to the branches to do transactions, but be able to do transaction from the comfort of their phone.

He said: “The UBA striving is to really invest in technology that enables customers to do transaction from anywhere you are, anytime, and anyway you want it.”

Adedeji further explained that the technology that UBA is investing is not only for individual customer only but also for businesses.

“So, what it means is that we have solutions for individual to manage their lifestyle, solutions for small, medium and large enterprise, and solution that are design for government to benefit from.

“Some of these solutions or all of these solutions are offered in all our country at the presence, I’ve come to many of the countries and I see that what you guys offer is actually emulating good news. The solution that we are offering, trust me is more advanced, and because it is designed to serve the purpose and the situations in Africa.

“Interestingly, the story shows that over 80 per cent of Africans access internet through their phones, so therefore, it necessary to focus on mobile as we are introducing banking. So the bank has introduced mobile banking application that enables customers to do banking transaction. and we even gone further to simplify how to use the mobile banking application, and so using your finger print to also authenticate transaction”, he stated.

Meanwhile, the Pan Africa bank, on Monday, reported 9-month pretax profit N78.33bn against N58.80bn the same period in 2016.

The bank in its third quarter, declared gross earnings of N333.90bn compared to N265.52bn during the same period last year.

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