The elements of digitalisation and climatic change remain critical focal points if the African continent is to develop significantly and fully maximise its capacity in the next few years.
Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who said this noted that although digitalisation has contributed significantly to the economic fortunes of Nigeria and the African economy, there is still room for more growth – especially as digital technology offers the most effective way for Africa to fast-track development.
He was speaking at the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Group Chairman’s Forum 2022, held at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, where he was hosted to dinner by the bank’s Group Chairman, Tony O. Elumelu.
The UBA group Chairman’s forum is an annual interactive and knowledge-sharing session led by Tony O. Elumelu. The forum brings together the group and the bank’s subsidiary board members as well as its executive management team, from across Africa and globally, to further solidify the bank’s vision and generate ideas for the advancement of Africans and the African economy.
The Vice President commended Elumelu and the UBA management for the auspicious event, pointing out that climate change and how it is handled has a huge role to play in the continent over the coming years.
“There are two crucial issues bound to determine Africa’s growth trajectory in the next few decades – Digitisation and how we handle Climate Change. While digital technology offers the most effective way for Africa to leapfrog African development, clean and renewable energy sources are the fastest-growing segment of energy today and will certainly be a key economic driver well into the future, and must be embraced,” Osinbajo emphasised.
While pointing out that energy demand in Nigeria and across Africa is set to rise to deliver the Industrialisation, jobs and economy-wide progress the people deserve, the Vice President emphasised the need for collaboration to drive the common goal of empowerment, adding that: “On this journey toward zero emissions and toward deploying digitisation to initiate mass education and tackle poverty, our continent will fulfil its potentials and deliver prosperity when public and private sector players do their part; in this particular case, via funding”.
In a similar vein, while welcoming the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emifiele – who was a special guest of the UBA Group Chairman during the bank’s forum, Elumelu noted that most of the Governor’s policies had given opportunities for financial institutions to thrive and contribute meaningfully to the economies of Africa.
“Africa’s largest economy has raised successful private sector leaders; and the CBN Governor, through CACOVID, has brought a forum for all of us to discuss together. At our interactive sessions we discuss the development of Nigeria, talking about key areas like Healthcare, security, and national economy from the perspective of economic development and growth. People who were on their own successfully have finally come together with a common goal. This was especially evident when the COVID-19 pandemic struck and the private sector swung into action under the coalition team that the CBN Governor put together,” Elumelu said.
Continuing, he said: “We set up isolation centres across the country and spent so much money on vaccinations, easing the processes around them. We have focused on opening up the economy. We just put together N100billion to help support our security agencies and increase their capacities”.
In his own submission, Emefiele spoke on the role that banks and other financial institutions have to play in the economy – especially on a continent as endowed and vast as Africa.
He said that if recent figures from the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) is anything to go by, then the issues of job creation and food security have to be fully addressed, adding that: “Central banks and the financial systems have a critical role to play in empowering the solutions to issues of food security and job creation on our continent”.
Emefiele commended the UBA Chairman, Tony Elumelu, for his excellent work over the years and his various contributions toward economic development of the country in all the critical areas he has ventured into – ranging from banking, oil and gas, tourism and other concerns.
“I congratulate Elumelu because he is actually doing everything possible to fly the flag of Nigeria, both within and outside the country, by spreading the tentacles of UBA in many countries of Africa, the UK, US, France – and now I have just heard about the approval to operate in Dubai, so I celebrate him and indeed the entire management of UBA,” Emefiele stated.
Kweku Awotwi, Board Chairman of UBA Ghana, thanked the Vice President and Governor as well as all other dignitaries and Board chairpersons from across Africa for making it to the forum, promising that insights from the meeting will help to further deepen the bank’s operations on the continent and beyond.