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2024: Banking sector ready for challenges, opportunities — CIBN 

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The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) says the banking sector has overcome past challenges and it is preparing for a future with both difficulties and opportunities.

The President/Chairman of Council, Dr Ken Opara, said this at the 10th National Economic Outlook, organised by the CIBN Centre for Financial Studies, in collaboration with B. Adedipe Associates Ltd., on Tuesday in Lagos.

Reports that the meeting had the theme, “Implications for Businesses in 2024.”

The CIBN chairman said that the banking sector faced significant challenges including non-performing loans, inflation, forex scarcity, and cybersecurity threats.

Despite these difficulties, Opara said that the sector demonstrated resilience, meeting regulatory benchmarks and maintaining stability.

He said that the challenges and lessons learned from 2023 would guide the future of the banking industry.

Opara said, “However, the lessons learned from 2023 will undoubtedly serve as a guidepost for the future.

“Continued economic stability, effective regulatory measures, and proactive risk management will be crucial as our financial institutions navigate the complexities of the year 2024.

“In the face of adversity, we trust that our banking sector will not only weather the storm but emerge stronger, more resilient, and better equipped to contribute to the sustained growth and prosperity of our nation as we share insights on how we can navigate the economic terrain in 2024 and beyond.”

He noted that the economic landscape presented both challenges and opportunities, urging the government to diversify the economy by supporting the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).

He advised the government to promote exports, and add value in key sectors like agriculture and manufacturing.

Opara also saw the need for banks to prepare for capitalisation, build buffers, embrace digital transformation, and develop innovative solutions for SMEs and vulnerable sectors.

“Nigerian banks, meanwhile, must proactively prepare for capitalisation to service the desired $1trillion economy by 2026 amidst economic uncertainties.

“Building buffers to withstand potential shocks e.g aiming for the optimal capital adequacy ratio would enhance their resilience and ability to support economic growth.

“Additionally, embracing digital transformation and developing innovative financial solutions tailored to SMEs and other vulnerable sectors will be key to navigating the evolving economic landscape successfully,” he stressed.

On his part, Deputy Governor, Economic Policy, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Muhammad Abdullahi, expressed the bank’s commitment to supporting businesses and fostering a sustainable economic environment in Nigeria.

Abdullahi, represented by Dr Mohammed Tumala, Director Monetary Policy Department, CBN, highlighted the government’s efforts to create a more conducive business environment and diversify the economy beyond oil.

He noted that government efforts were aimed to attract investment, generate foreign exchange, and support the growth of various sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, and technology, ultimately leading to a more stable and prosperous future for Nigerian businesses and the economy as a whole.

Abdullahi said, “Furthermore, the commitment to fostering a conducive business environment is paramount.

“The new administration’s push for streamlining regulations, reducing bureaucratic hurdles, and promoting transparency could encourage both local and foreign investments.

“Such measures could provide businesses with the confidence and stability needed for sustained growth.

“The government’s focus on promoting non-oil exports like agriculture, manufacturing, and technology, offers fertile ground for new businesses and the growth of trade.

“Increased non-oil exports can help to improve the trade balance, reducing the deficit and generating the needed foreign exchange reserves. This can stabilise the currency and attract foreign investment.

“Also, promoting manufacturing and processing would add value to raw materials before export, generating higher profits and boosting competitiveness in the global market.

“Similarly, encouraging technology exports fosters innovation and research and development, leading to a more technologically-advanced economy, and potentially driving further economic growth.”

The Founder/Chief Consultant of B. Adedipe Associates Ltd., Dr ‘Biodun Adedipe, therefore, urged the government to actively implement the reforms it has announced.

He said that successful execution of these reforms was crucial for achieving positive outcomes for the country.

“As policy advocates, what we want to do is to encourage them to execute all these reforms that they have announced because of all the outlooks that people are doing all over the world; there are some very funny and strange projections for Nigeria.

“But, every one points to the reforms that we are doing in Nigeria, which means what is important for us is to execute the reforms,” Adedipe said

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FAAN: We are working on strategies, innovation to improve airport operations — Director

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The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) on Monday said that it had charted strategies to bring about innovations and upgrades that would lead to improvement in airport operations and management.

Director, Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, FAAN, Mrs Obiageli Orah, said this  when she received the new executives of the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) in Lagos.

Orah said FAAN had gone through changes with the upgrade in the Directorate of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, creation of Special Duty and the Cargo Development Services, among others.

She said that the changes were all geared toward meeting global standards in the management of airports under FAAN.

According to her, the vision of President Bola Tinubu is encapsulated in the Renewed Hope Agenda.

She said that this underscored the vision of the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr Festus Keyamo (SAN), to create new directorates that would ensure that travellers are offered the best services across airports in the country.

“FAAN has gone through tremendous changes in the past few months.

“We have added some new directorates to the existing ones; I will start with my directorate which is public affairs and consumer protection.

“It is relatively a new one because we had corporate affairs but now christened public affairs and consumer protection.

“We also added a directorate of cargo development and services which deals with everything regarding cargo and hajj operations.

“We also have a special duty directorate, one I will describe as an interventionist directorate that helps the agency intervene in any situation as the case may be,” she said.

According to her, the authority’s Managing Director and other directors are all poised to ensure Nigerians get the best.

She commended the Minister’s vision for FAAN, noting that it would engender the desired growth and global competitiveness the industry strived to achieve.

Orah said that passengers passing through the airports deserved better, after paying taxes, buying tickets and all that.

“We feel and know that they deserve the best. So, that is why security, safety and comfort of all our passengers are paramount to our operations,” she said.

Orah also assured pilgrims that there would be changes in how FAAN handled hajj operations in the airports.

She said that a new system would be employed to ease movement of passengers and goods and address long queues that pilgrims experienced in the past.

The newly elected LAAC Chairman, Mr Suleiman Idris, who led the new team, pledged the support of the association in achieving the vision of the new administration.

He said that they would play their part in turning the fortunes of the country’s aviation industry around

Idris said that LAAC would continue to play its role in holding the leadership of the sector accountable to the people.

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NASENI, NIPSS to collaborate on enhancing digital economy, job creation

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The National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) and the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Plateau State are set to collaborate on enhancing Nigeria’s digital economy footprints, empowering and creating jobs for millions of youths.

The Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO),  NASENI, Mr. Khalil Suleiman Halilu, disclosed this while welcoming participants of the Senior Executive Course (SEC) 46 of NIPSS who were at the Agency on Strategic Institution Study tour on Monday, 15th April, 2024.

Halilu said he was elated that NASENI was identified as one of the federal government’s agencies that have all it takes to empower and create job opportunities for Nigerian youths, and make the country self-reliant in manufacturing and digital economy.

Halilu said strengthening the capacity of key stakeholders in Nigeria to access, adopt and scale up technologies is an essential outcome of such cooperation and collaborations currently being undertaken by the Agency and “must be supported by the relevant offline conditions, such as an enabling policy environment, access to finance, appropriate incentives and innovation capacities.”

The Director-General of NIPSS, Prof. Ayo Omotayo, who led the delegation, said Nigerian youths can be empowered through translation of NASENI innovations to finished products and to strengthen the collaboration between the two organisations.

According to him, various groups from the institute have been sent to different agencies to study how policies for national development can be developed, adding that the Group in NASENI will do a deep study on NASENI on how the Agency can help in creating job opportunities for Nigerian youths using some of its technological innovations.

He said, “Nigeria cannot have good manufacturing without infrastructures and NASENI is very important in all the sectors in the country, especially in manufacturing industries.

“We need an Agency like NASENI to live up to expectations, we can work together with you to find means of transferring your innovations to effective job creation and youth empowerment.”

He noted that the Course 46 participants from NIPSS wanted to know the vision, mission and roles of NASENI and how they can be translated to job creation for youths in a digital economy.

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FG unveils plans for inland waterways, coastal services

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By Seun Ibiyemi

The Federal Government, through the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, on Sunday, said that it would soon unveil its plans for the Inland Waterways and Coastal Services in the industry.

Its Minister, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola, was quoted to have disclosed this in a statement issued in Lagos by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Zoe Maritime, Mrs Tosan Edodo-Moore.

The minister will unveil the plans at the forthcoming Maritime Business Roundtable Breakfast Meeting.

Edodo-Moore said that the federal government, through its Renewed Agenda, was committed to increasing the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country, by increasing the revenue generated by the ministry.

“We are pleased to announce the Maritime Business Roundtable Breakfast Meeting (MBRBM) on Security and New Technologies in Inland Waterways Transportation, scheduled for April 18 in Lagos.

“The highlight of the meeting was the intervention of Madam Yan Yuqing, the Consul General of the People’s Republic of China.

“Yuqing will share the Sino-Nigeria Maritime Relationship and lessons to be learnt from China, which has the largest Inland Waterways Network in the World.

“Also, the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola, will unveil the administration’s plans for Inland Waterways and Coastal Services.

“The subject will be dissected by a panel, comprising industry stakeholders, regulatory authorities and security agencies,” she said.

Edodo-Moore said that the panellists would include Mr Mohammed Bello-Koko, Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Dr Dayo Mobereola, the Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

Others are Alhaji Munirudeen Oyebamiji, the Managing Director National Inland Waterways Authority, [NIWA] Lokoja and Mr Oluwadamilola Emmanuel, the General Manager of Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA).

It will also include Mr Oluseyi Oluyede, the Managing Director, Niger Benue Transport Co Ltd. and AIG Rhoda Olofu, the Maritime Police Command.

According to her, expected participants are port users, maritime stakeholders, government agencies, banks (with maritime desk), Insurance companies, ship-owners, boat operators, logistics companies, freight forwarders, Oil and Gas companies and foreign entities

Edodo-Moore said that the benefits of the Maritime Breakfast Roundtable include visibility, growth, networking, impartation and exchange of knowledge.

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