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Ecobank Earmarks N15 Billion for Agricultural Scheme

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The Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Patrick Akinwuntan has given reasons for his bank’s investment in agricultural development.

Consequently, Ecobank Nigeria has entered into a strategic partnership with the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) with a N15 billion agricultural investment scheme being the first tranche in agricultural value chain financing.

The bank says, “The partnership between both institutions is in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s request that banks provide more funding to the agriculture sector.

NIRSAL was set up by the Federal Governmental as an innovative mechanism targeted at de-risking lending to the agricultural sector. It is designed to provide the singular transformational and one bullet solution to break the seeming jinx in Nigeria’s agricultural lending and development.

Announcing the partnership in Lagos during a business meeting with the management of NIRSAL, Akinwuntan also said that Ecobank Nigeria had concluded plans to invest at least N70bn in agriculture financing within the next three years.

He noted that the N15bn dedicated funding with NIRSAL guarantee is for an initial takeoff tranche and rollovers will be done at the completion of each cycle.

“Agriculture is pivotal to the success and development of any nation’s economy.

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“We are therefore committed to working with NIRSAL to open up the vast opportunities that abound in agriculture. Ecobank has done it in other countries across the continent, so we can do the same in Nigeria.

“This will give us the opportunity to create employment and enable farmers to finance their children’s education with ease. We prefer people to see us not just as a bank, but as a partner who will help them succeed.

“We are part of the community and we meet the people at the point of their needs.” he noted.

Akinwuntan noted that with a larger African footprint than any other bank in the world operating in West, Central, East and Southern Africa, Ecobank is the only bank that spans 36 African countries yet operates a truly integrated African network.

“Ecobank’s unique and largest pan-African platform is designed to help unlock the opportunities of the continent and for the continent, through standardization, fuelling regional integration, trade and investment across borders. Due to our sterling performance, we have been severally recognized; Most recently as ‘Best Retail Bank in Africa 2019’ at African Banker Awards and also as Most Admired Financial Services Brand in Africa 2019 by Brand Africa 100”.

In his remarks, the Managing Director/CEO of NIRSAL, Mr. Aliyu Abdulhameed urged the bank to harness the opportunities available in financing the agricultural sector leveraging on NIRSAL’s template of geo-cooperatives of 250Ha with a ticket size as much as N65 million naira, where all the players in the agricultural value chain are locked-in with an end-to-end approach and near zero cash handling system under a de-risked ecosystem to optimize agricultural value chain financing. He stated that this unique approach to agribusiness creates value for both farmers and financiers.

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According to Abdulhameed, “At NIRSAL, we work primarily to create value for both financiers and farmers. It is in view of this that we have created innovative tools, techniques, methodologies and established strategic partnerships like this, to create a symbiotic relationship between all actors along the Agricultural value chain.”

The CBN led by Governor Godwin Emefiele has been at the vanguard of investment in Agriculture as a key contributor to the country’s economy.

It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had recently sought the collaboration of Ecobank Group to “institute a special fund to develop agriculture, which will cement its legacy as a bank that helped to transform this region’s economic fortunes.

Business News

Naira Redesign Encourages Financial Inclusion, Electronic Transactions – CBN

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

The naira redesign will encourage expanded financial inclusion and other forms of electronic transactions, according to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), yesterday.

CBN Director of Currency Operations, Ahmed Umar, stated this at the 2022 workshop for business editors and members of the Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN) in Port Harcourt yesterday.

Umar, represented by Amina Halidu-Giwa, the Head, Policy Development Division, Currency Operation Department of the bank, said the redesign would encourage many un-banked people to be included in the financial system.

According to him, it will discourage excessive carrying of cash and encourage other electronic means of transactions.

He said that when the un-banked were fully captured in the financial system, it would help form adequate data for effective planning for greater economic growth.

“Naira redesign will also help in reducing cash management expenditures, give visibility and control and will help the bank to know the volume of money in circulation.

“It will also help in fighting counterfeiting and money laundering,” he said.

The director said that contrary to rumours that the CBN would print other denominations apart from the redesigned N1000, N500 and N200, no other denomination would be printed.

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Umar also said that the bank was not making money from the printing of the new notes contrary to insinuations.

He said that it was just a continuous process of printing money by the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc, adding that no contract was given to outsiders for the printing.

Fielding questions on why the redesign was so simple, he said “we want to solve a problem and we have limited time to do that.

“Redesigning is about change of colour or size. The ink itself is a security feature,” he said.

Umar said that the redesign of the notes were long overdue noting that the N1000 notes had stayed for 17 years, N500 for 21 years and N200 for 22 years.

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NDIC Pays 443,949 Failed Banks Depositors N11.83bn

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

The Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), yesterday said it has paid a total of N11.83 billion to over 443,949 insured depositors and over N101.37 billion to uninsured depositors of all categories of banks as at June 2022.

Managing director of NDIC, Bello Hassan disclosed this at a workshop organized by the Corporation for financial journalists in Portharcourt yesterday.

The NDIC bank liquidation mandate entails reimbursement of insured and uninsured depositors, creditors, and shareholders of banks in liquidation.

“The liquidation activities, as of June 30, 2022, covered a total of 467 insured financial institutions in liquidation, comprising 49 Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), 367 Microfinance Banks (MFBs), and 51 Primary Mortgage Banks (PMBs) and out of the 49 DMBs in liquidation, the Corporation in September 2022 declared 100 per cent liquidation dividend in 20 of those institutions, meaning that the Corporation has realized enough funds from their assets to fully pay all depositors of the listed banks.

“As of June 30, 2022, the NDIC provided deposit insurance coverage to a total of 981 insured financial institutions.

“The breakdown includes 33 DMBs made up of 24, commercial banks, six Merchant Banks and three Non-Interest Banks (NIBs) plus two Non-Interest windows; 882 Microfinance Banks (MFBs); 34 Primary Mortgage Banks (PMBs); three Payment Service Banks (PSBs) and 29 Mobile Money Operators,” he explained..

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Three papers were presented on the first day of the workshop namely, “Rising Ponzi Scheme and Investment Scam in Nigeria What We need to know; Understanding the role of premium contribution in an asante funding Deposit Insurance System; and The role of the media in addressing emerging issues in the banking industry”.

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Naira Redesign: Abuja ACCI Wants Deadline Extended

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The Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has appealed to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to extend the deadline for the non-continuation of the use of the current currency notes.

The President of ACCI, Dr Al-Mujtaba Abubakar, made the appeal in a statement he issued on Tuesday, in Abuja in reaction to the recent announcement by the CBN on the redesigning of the country’s currency.

According to him, there have been various reactions from experts on the policy and while some experts agree with the CBN’s strategic objectives for the exercise, others differ.

“As a chamber, we recognise the advantages of this policy to include improvement in the integrity of the currency, curbing inflation, the efficiency of its supply and strengthening the strategy to conduct monetary policy, among others.

“However, we are not unaware of the cons of this policy on the national economy, specifically to the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

“We would recommend to the apex bank to intensify public awareness campaign on the need for people and businesses to transit cash outside the banking system to the banks,’’ he said.

Abubakar explained that the sensitisation would allay the fears of Nigerians, deepen the buy-in of the citizenry and build national support for the implementation process.

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According to him, at the same time, the CBN should extend the deadline for the non-continuation of the use of the old currency notes.

“The chamber would also advise the CBN to provide financial and non-financial interventions (support) to cushion any likely negative impact this policy may have on businesses,’’ he said.

The president also said that the CBN, working with other stakeholders in the financial services eco space, needed to sustain and aggressively pursue and expand financial inclusiveness to cover unbanked segments of the society.

“This can be achieved through new procedures that match the peculiarities of the informal economy.

“The banking establishments also have a duty to harmonise bank charges associated with cash deposits,” Abubakar said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the CBN said that the redesigned Naira notes would be released by Dec. 15, adding that existing ones would cease to be regarded as legal tender by Jan. 31, 2023. (NAN)

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