By Peter Egwuatu
The outgoing Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer, United Bank for Africa, UBA, Mr. Phillip Oduoza has emphasised that the existence of Pan African banks across the African continent will help drive financial inclusion and expand trade in the continent To this development, he called for increased collaboration among African central banks in order to drive intra-African trade on the continent. He also stated that UBA Plc’s Non Performing Loan, NPL has gone down to 1.7 per cent, even as it diversified its earnings through its subsidiaries across the Africa continent.
Speaking at the 4th Valedictory Lecture, Titled “The Emergence of a Nigerian Pan-African Bank” organised by Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, CIBN in Lagos, Oduoza said “ The risk asset quality of UBA is one of the best in the industry , just as its asset base increased in excess of N1 trillion after consolidation between it and then Standard Trust Bank.”
He also noted that “Intra-African trade growth will be further supported by the introduction of a visa-free travel policy across the continent by the African Union as well as the development of intra-regional transport infrastructure.”
Meanwhile, speaking before the commencement of the lecture by Oduoza, the President and Chairman of Council of the CIBN, Professor Segun Ajibola, explained that the valedictory lecture is organized to honour retiring bankers who have distinguished themselves to share their thoughts and experience with industry players and regulators. He also emphasized that only bankers who have shown professionalism and integrity are honoured with a valedictory lecture by the institute.
Oduoza in his valedictory speech also harped on the need for improved financial inclusion on the continent, noting that research has shown that only 34 per cent of African adults have a bank account as at 2014. He suggested the adoption of mobile money services could help drive financial inclusion on the continent.
According to him “In retrospect, I would say that our African expansion was a very bold move as foreign investor sentiments of the continent was very negative because of decades of weak economic growth, poverty and instability; hence it was labeled “The Dark Continent” by The Economist magazine at the start of the century.
“Today, Africa has taken a turn for the better. Since, the middle of last decade, Sub-Saharan Africa Gross Domestic Product, GDP has averaged 6.1 per cent until the financial crisis of 2008. Post 2008, the region has continued to grow with Sub-Saharan Africa GDP growth rate of 3.5 per cent, higher than the global GDP and advanced economies GDP of 3.1 per cent and 1.9 per cent respectively by 2015.”
Speaking on the potentials in Africa, Oduoza, stressed that the growth on the continent has been driven by the exploitation of its massive and rich natural resources. “Africa accounts for about 10 per cent of the world’s crude oil, 8 per cent of global gas, 42 per cent of gold and 73 per cent of platinum reserves. Sub Saharan Africa thus benefitted immensely from rising commodity prices in the last decade, which boosted government revenues and Foreign Direct Investments, resulting in a significant growth in disposable income as seen in the 71 per cent spike in Sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP per capita from $897 in 2005 to $1,530 in 2010″ he stated.