The leadership of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Pan- African and Payment Settlement System (PAPSS) in a bid to resolve payments-related barriers in the actualization of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The MoU was signed between both organizations at the CIBN’s just-concluded 15th annual Banking and Finance Conference which held from Wednesday 13th to Thursday 14th September, 2022 in Abuja.

Themed: ‘Repositioning the Financial Services Industry for an Evolving Glocal Context,’ the Conference featured five business and four plenary sessions with A-list faculty.

The business session featured the following topical issues; Banking in Africa: The Role of AfCFTA and PAPSS; Nigeria’s economy in the last five years: lessons learnt and choices to make in the next five years; Workforce globalisation: Opportunities and threat; Banking & Fintech: The nexus and opportunities; Climate change: The role of financial services sector.

The plenary session addressed the following; Sustainable financing: Opportunities, challenges and solutions for the energy sector; Food security: Unlocking Nigeria’s potentials to feed Africa; Creating economy: Scaling for jobs; Harnessing the untapped opportunities in Nigeria’s healthcare system.

According to a communiqué released by the Institute at the end of the two-day conference, both sessions recorded highly-engaging and intellectual discourse aimed at charting a new partway to unlocking Nigeria and Africa’s untapped potentials in Agriculture, healthcare, financial services and other key sectors.

Some of the highpoints and resolutions from the Business and Plenary Sessions include; “Focus on improving trade by resolving payments-related barriers isa fundamental requirement for the success of the AfCFTA and this has been highlighted by the PAPSS. PAPSS provides a model that would support international payments in local currency, thus resolving specific payment-related challenges.

“There are a lot of opportunities for Africa and the wealth that is not being tapped because of the low level of trade interaction in the continent. The Nigerian business model should be reshaped to address the unfriendly macroeconomic issues.

“The growth of on-lending facilities for companies that have proper ESG goals and workable plans presents opportunities for businesses. Infrastructure development needs to be facilitated to ensure the success of both the AfCFTA and PAPSS.

Meanwhile, the Chairman, Conference Consultative Committee and Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Sterling Bank Plc, Mr Abubakar Suleiman advocated for the institution of US$20 million Capacity Building training fund to be housed in the CIBN. According to him, the proposed fund will be used to train and retrain workers who can fill the gap left by their colleagues who emigrate. He also pledged a donation of US$1 million by Sterling Bank to kick start the fund.

Dignitaries at the Conference include President Muhammadu Buhari, represented by the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu represented by the Commissioner of Finance, Doctor Rabiu Olowo, Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele who also doubled as the Chief Host. Others in attendance include CEOs, seasoned bankers and industry stakeholders. The CIBN President, Ben Opara was host of the Conference.

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