By Michael Eboh & Ediri Ejoh
Access Bank Plc said it now has the largest loan book in Nigeria’s banking industry, at over N3 trillion, following the successful conclusion of its merger with Diamond Bank.
Executive Director, Retail Banking of the bank, Mr. Victor Etuokwu, who disclosed this yesterday in Abuja, at the Access Bank Business Workshop for Health Practitioners, noted that the bank has also emerged the largest lender to the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sector.
Etuokwu noted that historically, Access and Diamond Banks were known to rank among the biggest lenders to SMEs in the country, adding that the merger had cemented the bank’s position as the biggest financiers of SMEs and other critical sectors of the economy.
He stated: “Today, Access Bank has the largest loan book in the industry, about N3 trillion. No other bank has that amount. With our merger with Diamond Bank, we have two banks today, who lend the most to SMEs. Diamond was a major lender to SMEs, same thing with Access Bank. Today, we are the bank that is truly the home for SMEs.”
Etuokwu called for increased support for the country’s health sector, while he added that the Federal Government needed to be prodded to invest more in health insurance.
“The health sector guarantees that people are able to even do business. It is a sector that tends to well-being. Any sector that tends to and drive well-being in Nigerians would do well. If you are not healthy, you cannot do business. Any sector that drives healthy conditions supports you to be well. This is a sector that we need to finance a lot more, needs to be a lot structured. We need to have a lot more health practitioners in the country.
“If you look at the ratio of health workers to population, it is very low. Effective demand for health, the ability to pay for health in the country is quite low. We need to drive government to invest a lot more in health insurance. Health insurance drives the health sector.”