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Excitement as Nigeria, China sign $2.5bn currency swap deal

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Wednesday announced the execution of a $2.5 billion bilateral currency swap agreement with the Peoples Bank of China (PBoC) to boost local currency liquidity in the economy.

CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, led the Nigerian delegation to sign the agreement on behalf of the federal government, while PBoC Governor, Yi Gang, led the Chinese team at a ceremony in Beijing, China, at the end of negotiations on Friday, April 27.

A statement by the CBN spokesperson, Isaac Okorafor, said the transaction valued at Renminbi (RMB) 16 billion was to provide adequate local currency liquidity to Nigerian and Chinese industrialists.

The deal, which would also assist other local businesses by reducing the difficulties they encounter in the search for third currencies.

Mr Okoroafor said the agreement would provide Naira liquidity to Chinese businesses as well as provide RMB liquidity to their Nigerian counterparts in return, to improve the speed, convenience and volume of transactions between the two countries.

Bilateral trade volume between Nigeria and China grew by 30 per cent from 2016 to about $12.3 billion between January and November 2017, Deputy Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Lin Jing, said.

Describing Nigeria as the biggest Chinese investment destination in Africa, Mr Jing said the country was also the second largest export market and the third largest trading partner to China in Africa.

With the significant presence of Chinese firms in the Nigerian economy in recent times, most of the companies handing various infrastructural projects for the government have had to struggle with funding to complete them.

The currency in circulation as at March 31 according to CBN was N2.039 trillion.

The swap deal is expected to assist both countries in their foreign exchange reserves management, enhance financial stability and promote broader economic cooperation between the two countries, Mr Okoroafor said.

“With the operationalisation of this agreement, it will make it easier for most Nigerian manufacturers, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and cottage industries in manufacturing and export businesses to import raw materials, spare-parts and simple machinery to undertake their businesses.

“They will take advantage of available RMB liquidity from Nigerian banks without being exposed to the difficulties of seeking other scarce foreign currencies, which attract higher interest rate charges,” he said.

The CBN spokesperson said the deal, which is purely an exchange of currencies, would also make it easier for Chinese manufacturers seeking raw materials from Nigeria to obtain Naira from banks in China to pay for imports from Nigeria.

“Indeed, the deal will protect Nigerian business people from the harsh effects of third currency fluctuations. With this, Nigeria becomes the third African country to have such an agreement in place with the PBoC,” he said.

Mr Emefiele and his Chinese counterpart expressed delight at the conclusion of negotiations and signing of the agreement, saying it would boost mutually beneficial business transactions between Nigeria and China.

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​Keystone Bank: Emerging whiz-kid on the banking block

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By: Felix Onajite

Since the financial crisis that enveloped the global market a decade ago, the profitability and reputation of banks has been under tremendous pressure worldwide, Nigeria inclusive. Whilst the banking industry is now regaining its health, the entrant of fintechs and neo-banks in the industry is posing a new threat. This digital disruption is changing the traditional way through which customers obtain financial services, hence putting more pressure on banks’ profitability.

However, a bank in Nigeria, Keystone Bank Ltd, is challenging the status quo by making transformation and profitability appear like a mere walk over as revealed in its achievements within a short time span. From the perspective of the results on ground, it appears to be a great time for Keystone Bank. In just one year of AMCON’s divestment, the bank has changed its narrative from “one of those banks” to a financial institution to be reckoned with and as a result is experiencing an influx of business minded customers.

Keystone Bank’s ambitious and holistic transformations have taken industry watchers by surprise, and the industry itself by storm. Besides the revamping of its branches across the nation and bolstering its workforce, it has invested substantially in technology and developed fully integrated service models that enable its customers enjoy banking services through a wide range of channels.

The bank’s journey to reckoning had been long and winding, which necessitated a takeover by the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) in 2011.

However, its acquisition by Sigma Golf – Riverbank consortium seemed to trigger a turnaround as it precipitated a change in the management team to the one that holds the magic wand for the positive outlook it has been experiencing to date

On taking over, the new management team led by its Group Managing Director/CEO Mr. Obeahon Ohiwerei drew up a holistic and integrated approach to business modernization which elevated the bank to deliver a superior customer-centric experience.  The impact of this change reflected positive results in its Q1 report card, which, from all indications, is a restoration of customers’ trust in its system.

The bank for the half-year ended June 30th, 2018 recorded a profit before tax of N5.83bn, compared to a loss of N6.78bn over the same period in 2017. Deposit grew by 51%, from N206bn to N312bn between June 2017 and June 2018

From evolving technologies to changing customer expectations to new regulatory demands – it has never been more important for banks to come up with the right strategies for digital transformation and innovation; the Ohiwerei team nonetheless made this a reality at Keystone Bank. This entailed initiating partnership processes with foremost technology-enabled concerns to drive its digital revolution.

Its partnership with CeLD Innovations Limited to launch a ground-breaking loyalty reward initiative which involves the gifting of ‘CashToken’, is one of such moves. This innovative gift commodity, Cash Token, which was formally launched in Lagos on Thursday April 19, 2018 at a conference tagged “500 Top CEOs Conference – Unleashing – The Age of Hyper Consumer Centricity, is an electronic reward and celebratory gift commodity which costs only N30.

The initiative, according to CeLD, creates a chance for every customer in Nigeria to win life-changing cash rewards every Friday night on the National CashToken draws which is monitored by Alexander Forbes and audited by Deloitte. This initiative is designed to optimize customer loyalty investment for business, celebratory gift value optimization and public emotional equity for government.

The bank has also launched its revamped mobile banking application upgraded with new and exciting user-friendly features for a more convenient banking experience. Customers can now enjoy many benefits & access self-service options, such as, easy account opening, convenient self- booking and liquidation of fixed deposits, an expanded list of bill-payment options and easy activation of standing instructions & recurrent future payments.

Other notable features of the mobile App are, a “Switch Card ON/OFF option” which allows users to disable their cards temporarily if missing & re-enable at the click of a button, the “Hide Balance Feature” safeguards against third-party viewing and the “Meet Your Relationship Manager Option” allows users to call or email their account officers right within the app.

In addition, the Bank was the first in the sector to introduce the Chat-bot feature called OXYGEN which enables banking on Telegram and Facebook. It guides users through a whole range of desired transactions step-by-step.

Another first from the Bank is the Zero Data Banking feature that enable customers transact on their phones without data. Keystone Bank has remained the only Bank with this feature on its Banking App.

And for the first time in its operations, Keystone Bank also introduced a new SMART number for customer support, this eliminates the need for customers to remember multiple numbers while removing the uncertainty as to which of the lines are actively engaged.

These and many other moves leveraging technology and building a culture of innovation is fast repositioning the bank as a new whiz kid on the banking block, which, according to its group managing director, Mr. Obeahon Ohiwerei is a proof of the hard work and resilience of the board, management and staff of the bank.

Today, Keystone Bank’s branches are fast becoming a hub for transactional activities witnessing a huge footfall of customers trooping in to carry out transactions, open bank accounts and experience the innovative trends that the bank has introduced to its business. This overall experience has also been boosted by the enhancement of staff morale which inherently drives the commitment to serve their customers better.

From the look of unfolding events at Keystone Bank, it’s clear to see that, it’s just a matter of time before the bank starts operating in the first tier again.

– Felix Onajite, a financial analyst writes from Lagos, Nigeria.

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Forex: CBN boosts wholesale market, others with fresh $210m

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has sustained its intervention in the inter-bank foreign exchange market by injecting yet another sum of $210,000,000 into various sums of the market on Tuesday, August 14, 2018.

At Tuesday’s trading, the Bank offered the sum of $100,000,000 as wholesale interventions and allocated the sum of $55,000,000 each for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) forex window and the invisibles sector, for customers requiring forex for Business/Personal Travel Allowances, tuition and medical fees, among others.

Confirming the figures in Abuja, the Acting Director, Corporate Communications at the CBN, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, said the Bank was pleased at the performance of the naira, noting that the currency had continued to enjoy stability against the dollar and other major currencies of the world in recent times.

Okorafor reassured the public that the Bank would continue to intervene in the interbank foreign exchange market in line with its resolve to ensure liquidity in the forex market and maintain stability. He reiterated that the steps taken by the CBN in forex management had resulted in further reduction in the country’s import bills and accretion to its foreign reserves.

It will be recalled that the CBN last Friday, August 10, 2018, intervened in the Retail Secondary Market Intervention Sales (SMIS) to the tune of $327 million in the agricultural and raw materials and CNY 69 million in the spot and short-tenored forwards.

The naira continued to maintain its strong stand against major currencies around the globe, exchanging for N360/$1 in the BDC segment of the market on Tuesday, August 14, 2018.

Meanwhile, the CBN will on Wednesday, August 15, 2018, sensitize stakeholders in Abuja and the adjoining States on the Bilateral Currency Swap Agreement between the CBN and the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) signed on April 27, 2018.

 

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Over 5000 entrepreneurs for 4th Tony Elumelu Foundation entrepreneurship forum in Lagos

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Africa’s leading entrepreneurship-focused philanthropic organisation, the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), has announced October 25, 2018, as the date for its 4thannual TEF Entrepreneurship Forum.

The largest gathering of African entrepreneurs and the broader entrepreneurship ecosystem will unite over 5,000 entrepreneurs, global investors, leaders from the African public and private sectors and developmental organisations at the Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos.  The event is a unique opportunity to generate ideas, forge networks and bring policymakers and the private sector together, in a spirit of robust debate and interaction. The 2018 cohort from the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme, as well as mentors and partners, will be present, as the culmination of their intensive twelve-week induction.

In keeping with the Foundation’s track record―most recently with President Macron of France―of bringing politicians face to face with the new generation of young business women and men shaping Africa, the Forum will include an interactive session with President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, moderated by TEF Founder, Tony O. Elumelu.

The Forum will also feature the launch of the TEFConnect, the world’s largest digital platform for African entrepreneurs, dedicated to connecting African entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Founder, Tony O. Elumelu, CON, stated: “In just four years, we have directly impacted 4,460 entrepreneurs, and we are beginning to see the results – job creation, ripple effects, but most importantly a recognition that Africa’s economic well-being is driven by entrepreneurs: female and male, large and small – they are the engine of our continent’s transformation. We will be championing and celebrating them. This year, we are truly achieving scale and impact; we received over 150,000 applications in 2017 alone, up from 20,000 applications in 2015. We are now calling on the current generation of African success stories and others to partner with us to see how we can all further create impact, genuinely transform millions of lives and increase the number of inspiring stories we will be hearing in Lagos”.

TEF CEO, Parminder Vir OBE stated: “The TEF Entrepreneurship Forum is the only event across the continent that brings together the complete African entrepreneurship ecosystem, demonstrating our commitment to capturing the whole continuum – from the entrepreneurs themselves, governments who must provide enabling environments, to capital, advice and perhaps most importantly access and network”.

Inspired by Tony Elumelu’s economic philosophy of Africapitalism and his vision to institutionalise luck and democratise opportunity for a new generation of African entrepreneurs, the Tony Elumelu Foundation has implemented one of the most ambitious entrepreneurship programmes globally.

The Programme is a 10-year, $100 million commitment to identify, train, mentor, and fund 10,000 entrepreneurs. Its goal is to invest in businesses that will generate at least 1,000,000 new jobs and contribute at least $10 billion in new annual revenues across Africa. In its 4th year, TEF Entrepreneurship Programme has empowered 4,460 entrepreneurs with a total investment of USD20million; 4,000 funded directly by the Foundation and 460 have been funded by partners.

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