Ecobank Shareholders Approve Resolutions As Chairman Hails Improved Outlook

Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, parent of the Ecobank Group, the leading pan-African bank with operations in 36 countries across the continent, concluded its 30th Annual General Meeting in Lomé, Togo, today.

Shareholders welcomed Ecobank’s return to profit for the year to 31 December 2017 as they approved all the resolutions at the AGM, which included the ratification of the co-option of Messrs. Monish Dutt, Brian Kennedy and David O’Sullivan as Directors. They are nominees of the International Finance Corporation, Nedbank Group and Qatar National Bank respectively.

The firms Deloitte and Touche, Nigeria and Grant Thornton Côte d’Ivoire were re-appointed as Joint Auditors for a one-year term.

Ecobank Group Chairman Emmanuel Ikazoboh said: “Ecobank enjoyed a return to profitability in 2017 as the strengthening of underwriting and risk management processes began to address our legacy credit issues. There were substantial improvements in the financial performance of our Consumer Bank and Corporate and Investment Bank divisions and the Board is confident that the foundations are now in place to enable the sustainable growth that will create shareholder value throughout Ecobank.”

Ade Ayeyemi, Group Chief Executive of Ecobank Group, said: “Our digitisation strategy is rapidly yielding results that are putting Ecobank firmly on its path to becoming the digital bank of choice across its pan-African territories.

Additionally, having ‘right-sized’ the business and ‘fixed the basics’, Ecobank is leveraging its inherent strengths as middle Africa’s leading financial platform to the benefit of all its stakeholders as a strong and sustainable bank as it promotes economic development and financial integration across the African continent.”

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Ecobank Mobile App Reaches 4 Million Users In Africa

The upgraded version of Ecobank’s revolutionary mobile app has attracted 3 million new customers in just 6 months, taking the total number of users to 4 million.

The app builds on the core functionality that saw the original version applauded as a game changer for African banking by using digital technology to combat many of the financial inclusion barriers faced by those on the continent. This includes the dearth of rural branches, affordability of products, high transaction costs and minimum opening balance requirements.

Ade Ayeyemi, Ecobank Group CEO, says Ecobank’s strategic mission is built around using mobile banking to deliver innovative, efficient and cost-effective services to those who have typically sat outside of the formal economy, and therefore goes far beyond the reach of the traditional branch and ATM networks.

Subsequently, while the app won one million customers in its first year of launch, upgraded features have seen the rate of sign-ups treble in half of the time. So far this year, app usage has been growing at an average 700k new customers per month.

“Customers can use the app on their mobile to instantly open Ecobank Xpress Account™, which doesn’t have any account fees, paperwork or minimum balance requirements, or to send and receive money across 33 African countries,” he explains. “Therefore, our app not only removes the barriers that have financially excluded so many Africans but offers next generation functionality to help them send money, make withdrawals or pay for goods and services.”

Patrick Akinwuntan, Ecobank’s Group Executive, Consumer Banking, says that Ecobank is committed to providing all Africans with access to financial services, but doing so in a way that conjoins functionality with convenient, accessible and efficient banking channels, such as the rollout of Ecobank Xpress  Point Agents.

“We want to be the digital bank of choice for all Africans,” he said. “Functionality is one thing – giving our customers unrivalled convenience is another. The Ecobank Xpress  Point Agents that can now be found in your local neighbourhood enable you to deposit money into your app-based Ecobank Xpress Account™ and begin to make digital payments on the app using Ecobankpay. You can also withdraw funds in local currency that may have been sent to you from friends or relatives using our innovative instant transfer or Xpress Cash capabilities.”

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Naira Remains Stable Against Dollar, Euro

The Naira on Monday remained stable as it traded at N362 to the dollar at the parallel market, same amount it was sold last Friday.

The Naira also closed against the euro at N481 at same market in Lagos.

The  Bureau De Change (BDCs) window, the Naira also recorded same stability.

It traded at N362 to the dollar, while the euro was sold at N482 since last week.

Data from the Financial Market Dealers Quote (FMDQ) showed that the indicative exchange rate for the I&E was at N360.15 per dollar.

The exchange was an appreciation of 0.01 percent from N360.19 per dollar recorded last Friday.

The Central Bank Of Nigeria (CBN) rate closed at N305.95 to the dollar.

Some of black market operators and BDCs said that there was no figure for pounds.

They were skeptical about trading naira for the currency because of the banknote changes by Bank of England.

Reports also revealed that the old £10 note is set to go out of circulation on March 1, 2018.

However, old notes can still be spent ahead of the cut-off date or exchanged at the bank once the point has passed.

The old paper fivers went out of circulation on May 5, 2017.

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CBN Boosts Foreign Exchange Market With $210m

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has provided fresh 210 million dollars to meet customers’ requests in various segments of the foreign exchange market.

The Bank’s Acting Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mr Isaac Okoroafor in a statement in Abuja, said that 100 million dollars was offered to authorized dealers in the wholesale segment of the market.

Okorafor said that the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) segment got 55 million dollars, while customers in need of foreign exchange for tuition fees, medical payments and Basic Travel Allowance (BTA), were allocated 55 million dollars.

Okorafor reiterated the CBN’s commitment to continuous intervention in the interbank foreign exchange market, in line with its pledge to sustain liquidity in the market and maintain stability.

He said that the CBN would continue to strategically manage the foreign exchange market with a view to reducing the country’s import bills and halting depletion of its foreign reserves.

On February 12, the CBN had intervened to the tune of 210 million dollars to cater to requests in the various segments of the market.

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Nigeria’s Foreign Reserves Hit $42.8bn, Says CBN

Nigeria’s foreign reserves have hit $42.8 billion, according to spokesman of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Isaac Okoroafor.

Okoroafor, who disclosed this at a meeting with Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, RIFAN, Wednesday, in Abuja, attributed the steady growth of the reserves to CBN policies targeting reduction in importation of goods, especially food that can be produced in the country.

He said: “CBN decided to go into the funding of rice and other agricultural produce because we felt that food supply is key if price stability is to be maintained.

“food makes up a disproportionately large portion of the basket of prices in the country.

“We decided to target food supply to bring down inflation.

“Second, we went into this business of funding agriculture because we felt that food, especially rice, was a key component of importation in Nigeria.

‘It was, therefore, a key component in the depletion of our foreign reserves.

“So we felt if we could deal with rice importation and replace it with local rice production, we would be working at rebuilding our reserves.

And I tell you, we have succeeded in meeting those two objectives.

‘’The reserves have gone to $42.8 billion as at yesterday (Tuesday) and you can see the inflation figures have been dropping and we expect this to continue throughout the year.”

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Obazelu Of Benin Kingdom Lauds Skye Bank For Rewarding Loyal Customers

 …as civil defense corps Inspector emerges Millionnaire at the Benin city draw


Benin, Nigeria – The Obazelu of Benin Kingdom, Chief Osaro Idah, has commended Skye Bank Plc., for rewarding loyal customers, making people happy and helping their businesses to grow.

 He said this during the presentation of N1 million cheque to Mrs. Eunice Odubor, an Inspector with Civil Defence Corps who emerged a lucky winner in the bank’s on-going “Reach for the Skye” millionaire reward promo which held at the palace of the monarch at the weekend.

 The Obazelu noted the commendable efforts of Skye Bank in encouraging savings culture in Nigeria and for giving equal opportunities to all customers to get a chance to win in the on-going “Reach for the Skye” millionaire reward promo.

 According to the monarch, “We are very impressed with your great steps to make life beautiful for our people. Your bank understands tradition and the core needs of the people. We will also continue to support your bank and encourage our people to bank with you.

 “I am also particularly happy that the winner is our own daughter and I believe that she will use the money to do well in our state, helping other people to live well and get better.

 “I encourage Skye Bank to continue with this initiative to make more people happy and help their businesses to grow,” He added.

 Mrs. Eunice Odubor, who runs an account with Forestry Road branch, Benin was full of praises for Skye Bank at the news of her emergence as the millionaire and particularly for putting smiles on her face even as people from all walks of life trooped out to witness the occasion.

 The 48-year old widow, a loyal customer from 2006, was thankful to Skye Bank for this reward noting that after the death of her husband three year ago things had not been rosy for her and 4 kids – 2 graduates and 2 schooling. One of them had to drop out from Ekpoma for lack of funds but now with this N1m she wants to push for him to continue his university education and also buy a land to start a small building project.

 “Your bank has never for a day deduct from my savings and I’ve never contemplated ever switching to another bank even when some of my colleagues were thinking of doing so at some point. I told them NO,” she added.

 Since it was introduced, the Skye Bank ‘Reach for the Skye Millionaire’ reward promo has been changing the lives of many for the better. The scheme, which is a feature for its flagship savings products, has produced millionaires including; Bello Sarafa Bayonle in Otta branch, Olusola Olusegun Ezekiel of Ikorodu branch in Lagos; Elizabeth Ohaeme of Ngbidi branch in Owerri and Buhari Aminu of Ibrahim Taiwo branch in Kano and other consolation prizes, is meant to encourage savings culture amongst the mass market segment.

 Speaking on the Bank’s commitment, Group Head, Product & Innovation Group, Skye Bank Plc., Ndubuisi Osakwe said “the scheme provides a unique opportunity for the Bank to stay in touch and reward its savings customers, who have a unique role to play in the country’s economic expansion”.

 “As a bank, we are committed to continually satisfy the needs of our customers as well as empower and encourage a savings culture in them, through initiatives like this and provide opportunities for them to establish small businesses with limited capital provided”, he said while commenting on why the bank kicked off the season 2 of the reward.

 “The reward focuses on retail banking that is anchored on the premise of building a long lasting relationship with our customers based on trust as well as supporting the financial inclusion drive of the CBN so as to bring a lot more people into the financial system and the formal economy”, Osakwe said.

 “Reach for the Skye Millionaire Reward” promo is a year-long initiative, with series of monthly raffle draws during which more and more winners will continue to emerge. A chance to win various cash prizes including N100,000 for 10 customers, N50,000 for another 10 customers and N20,000 for 20 loyal customers exists every month throughout the period of the scheme. 

 Part of activities lined up for the event is the instant reward for people who open any savings account during the event. The instant reward items at the draw venue include generator sets, refrigerators, blenders, phones, table gas cookers and even recharge cards.

 Skye Bank is Nigeria’s leading retail bank with wide-ranging electronic solutions promoting consumer lifestyle and e-commerce experience for its customers.

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GTBank Wins Nigeria’s Best Bank & Africa’s Best Bank for CSR at EMEA Finance Awards… MD Named CEO of the Year

Foremost African financial institution; Guaranty Trust Bank plc reaffirmed its position as a leading global brand with its recent recognition as the “Best Bank in Nigeria” and the “Best Bank for CSR in Africa.” The Bank’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Office, Segun Agbaje, also won the award for the CEO of the Year, which he won in 2013, thus becoming the first ever repeat winner in the history of the awards

EMEA Finance is a leading bimonthly global industry publication that reports on the major financial events and happenings initiated and influenced by the international financial industry active in Europe, Middle East, and Africa. The award celebrates Africa’s most innovative bank taking into consideration its market strength, profitability, growth and earnings, potential and quality of management of the financial institutions.

According to Christopher Moore, Publisher and Chief Executive of EMEA Finance Magazine: “In recent years, GTBank has attracted laudable accolades for its efforts in growing local communities through key interventions for SMEs in the Fashion and Food industry. This novel initiative of the Bank, has enabled it create free platforms for budding entrepreneurs across Africa to grow their businesses. In recognition of the bank’s effort in impacting local communities across Africa, GTBank is the proud winner of the 2017 Best Bank for CSR in Africa.”

He further stated that “GTBank’s emergence as “Best Bank in Nigeria” demonstrates its ability to continuously deliver notable success by leveraging cutting edge technology to deliver excellent services to a diverse African community and bolster efforts towards on-boarding the unbanked”

Receiving the award on behalf of the Bank, Segun Agbaje, Managing Director/CEO of GTBank said: “We are honored to be recognized as the Best Bank in Nigeria and Africa’s Best Bank for Corporate Social Responsibility. These awards reflects our progress in building strong, value adding relationships with our customers and demonstrates that of far greater importance to us, beyond providing first class service, is the role we play in our host communities.”

He further stated that, “I am humbled to be recognized as CEO of the Year for a second time; this award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the amazing team of people at GTBank. We will continue to differentiate ourselves by aggressively pursuing innovative solutions that create sustainable value for all our customers and stakeholders whilst championing high impact CSR initiatives to support the economic growth and social progress of our communities.

GTBank has consistently played a leading role in Africa’s banking industry. The GTBank brand is regarded by industry watchers as one of the best run financial institutions across its subsidiary countries and serves as a role model within the financial service industry due to its bias for world class corporate governance standards, excellent service delivery and innovation. The Bank operates from over 238 branches within the country and has banking subsidiaries in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Cote D’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the United Kingdom.

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Unilever Nigeria To Boost Nigerian Economy With Launch Of Blue Band Factory

Unilever Nigeria has officially opened its state-of-the-art Blue Band factory at Agbara Industrial Estate, Ogun State. Built with innovative manufacturing technology, the factory complements government’s efforts at boosting local investment and making significant contributions to the nation’s economic growth and development.

During the launch, The Executive Vice President, Unilever Ghana Nigeria, Yaw Nsarkoh, said that the Blue Band factory is the latest addition to the various long-term investments Unilever has made in Nigeria, which would not have been possible without the support of all its stakeholders.

“Prior to the siting of this factory we have also had cause to exploit economies of scale and ensure consistent access to reliable sources of raw material input. I am delighted that the result of our painstaking efforts and the support we enjoy from our stakeholders has led to the commissioning of an ultra-modern Blue Band factory today.” He said.

Speaking further, Yaw said that to sustainably serve our consumers, the new Blue Band factory is equipped with the Fast Blending technology. This technology uses 50% less energy compared to other manufacturing processes that utilize heat exchangers. This recapitulates our commitment to decouple the growth of our business from environmental impact.

Commending Unilever Nigeria at the launch, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, described Unilever as a company that has shown and demonstrated confidence in the Nigerian economy through its continuous investment drive in the country. “The siting of this factory could not have come at a better time than this. With this development, you have shown resilience amidst the challenges that you face in running a business of this size. I commend you for this initiative and as a government, we will continue to make deliberate efforts to support and encourage companies to invest in Nigeria through our policies. This is the only way we can grow this economy and create employ opportunities for Nigerians.” He said.

Also, speaking at the launch, the Executive Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, said, “We must commend the efforts of Unilever Nigeria for their unrelenting resolve and commitment to Nigeria’s economy through their investment activities. There is no doubt that this will impact on the socio-economic development of the nation as a whole.”

Blue Band, is a trusted and ideal brand among families for spreading on bread, cooking and baking. With the production of the product locally, its availability will be enhanced to meet the needs of consumers and customers.

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Mobile Money Operators Record N555bn Transactions In Six Months

Mobile Money Operators (MMOs) in the country have recorded N555.83 billion inter-scheme transactions in the first six months of year 2017, report says.

According to the latest e-payment industry fact sheet, the total number of mobile money users also stood at 2.3 million during the period.

The report shows that the N555.83 billion was achieved in 24.17 million deals among the 21 licensed MMOs by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

It noted that all the 21 MMOs have been integrated to the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS) platform for interoperability.

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Folorunso Alakija Inspires 300 Women At 2017 Flourish Africa Conference

Folorunso Alakija is one of a handful of successful female entrepreneurs on the continent listed as one of Forbes most powerful women in the world. The 66-year-old business magnate has persistentlychampioned the causes of women in Nigeria from her work with widows and orphans through the Rose of Sharon Foundation which Alakija uses as a medium to empower thousands of impoverished women and their children through a number of initiatives designed to give them a better standard of living.

Her organization, Famfa Oil, one of the largest indigenous oil companies in Africa, has built schools, science labs, roads as well as providing scholarships along side its partners to thousands of young students all over Nigeria. Her philanthropic work continues this year with the launch of the women empowerment platform, Flourish Africa.

Flourish Africa is the first platform of its kind designed to create an impact in the lives of women in Africa by providing the tools they need to fulfill their God given potential. Through a series of conferences, workshops and mentorship programs, the platform hopes to bring women from all walks of life together to share in their unique experiences and become who God has destined for them to be.
The first Flourish Africa conference took place at the Renaissance Ikeja Hotel in Lagos at an exclusive invitation only event hosted by Forbes Africa Head of Digital Media and Partnerships and West Africa Correspondent, Peace Hyde, which saw applications from over 2000 women vying for the opportunity to be part of the 300 people who were selected to partake in the exchange of knowledge from powerful women like Folorunso Alakija, Ibukun Awosika, Senator Daisy Danjuma, Mrs. Fashola, Juliet Ehimuan Chiazor, Uche Pedro, Ayo Mogbepe and many more.
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Dangote Commissions Mfila Plant In Congo

Dangote Cement Plc on Thursday, formally opened its 1.5mtpa capacity cement plant in Mfila, Congo Brazzaville, amid ecstasy by the government and the indigenes of the Country.

The new plant estimated at $300 million has potentials for about 1000 direct employment and thousands of several other indirect jobs.

President of the Republic of Congo, Mr. Denis Sassou Nguesso while inaugurating the plant said the investment was an industrial revolution, sort of, within the Economic Community of the Central African States (CEMAC), saying his country was happy to host the investment.

According to him, his government has observed the operations of Dangote cement in other African countries and it has helped buoy their economies by sparking off other allied industries expressing the hope that Congo situation would not be an exception.

The Congolese President described the coming on stream of the Dangote cement as timely and encouraging because it is starting operations at a time the total government revenues have plummeted by 31.3 percent and revenues from the oil sector have fallen 65.1 percent since 2015 due to a slide in global crude prices.

President Mohammadu Buhari who was represented at the event by a powerful delegation led by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi commended Alhaji Aliko Dangote and his Cement Company for championing economic renaissance of Africa with the construction of cement plants across several African countries saying the sterling accomplishment makes the Dangote Cement brand, and indeed Aliko Dangote himself, worthy ambassadors of Nigeria.

President Buhari said his government has consistently supported and encouraged the Dangote Group in its quest to contribute its quota to the economic emancipation of the African continent, which is blessed with a plethora of natural resources. “I believe that it is only home-grown practical solutions that can address the myriad issues plaguing Africa today and one of such challenges that Africa has been grappling with for decades is the infrastructure deficit. I am confident that massive investments in cement production, which is a key driver of infrastructural development, will contribute in no small measure, to addressing this perennial problem.”

President Buhari recalled with satisfaction that local cement manufacturers such as Dangote Cement, Lafarge and BUA, have exploited one of the solid minerals, limestone which is a basic input for cement production and which Nigeria has in abundance, in different parts of the country to achieve self-sufficiency in local cement production in 2015, and is now a net exporter of the product.

“The backward integration policy of the Federal Government in the cement sector, which was launched in 2002, has contributed to this success story by successfully substituting imports with local production, we have saved over $2billion spent on cement importation into Nigeria, annually.

“We have also started using cement for road construction in the country due to its numerous advantages over the more common bituminous road. Again, in this area, Dangote Cement is leading the charge, through AG-Dangote, its joint venture with Andrade-Gutierrez, a construction giant in Brazil”, Nigeria’s President stated.

Chairman of Dangote Cement Plc, Aliko Dangote in his address said his company was delighted to have completed the plant on schedule saying the addition of Dangote Cement’s 1.5 million metric tonnes per annum plant has more than doubled the total cement production capacity of Congo-Brazzaville, which now stands at 2.550 million metric tonnes per annum, far in excess of national demand.

“It is envisaged that this will contribute substantially to the availability and affordability of cement in the country and the Republic of the Congo will no longer need to depend on imports to bridge the gap between demand and supply.

“It is our hope that the inauguration of the plant will boost Congo’s economy, conserve foreign exchange that would otherwise have been spent on imports for the country, and create employment opportunities down the value chain.”, he stated.

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Nigeria’s Economy Is On The Path Of Recovery, Says Buhari’s Aide

The Special Adviser to the President Muhammadu Buhari on Economic Matters, Dr. Adeyemi Dipeolu, has said that Nigeria’s economy is on the path of recovery.

Dipeolu said this following a GDP figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), with oil, agriculture and industrial sectors leading the charge.

According to him, the report is a clear indication that the Nigerian economy has improved further.

“The Buhari administration welcomes the new growth figures, and will continue to work diligently on a daily basis to ensure inclusive growth, to which we have always been committed through the active pursuit of a raft of policy initiatives, past and present,”  a statement signed by Mr. OlaLaolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, reads.

Dipeolu, in the statement, noted that such initiatives include but not limited to the Social Investment Programmes, Anchor Borrowers Scheme, longstanding Budget Support Facilities to the States, plus other bailout packages, ensuring the comprehensive payment of workers’ salary & pension backlogs among others.

He also revealed that Federal Government will be ramping up the implementation pace of the Economic Recovery & Growth Plan.

“The latest NBS GDP figures show that the Nigerian economy grew by 1.4% year-on-year in real terms in the third quarter of 2017 (Q3 2017).  This is a steady continuation of the positive growth of 0.55% (now revised to 0.72%) experienced in Q2 2017 and reinforces the exit from the 2016 recession.

“The positive growth in Q3 is consistent with the improvements in other indicators.  Foreign exchange reserves have risen to nearly $34 billion while stock market and purchasing managers indices have also been positive.

“The naira exchange rate has stabilised while inflation has declined to 15.91% from 18.7 in January 2017.  While inflation is not declining as fast as desirable, it is approaching the estimated target of 15.74% for the year in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

“Agricultural growth was 3.06% in the third quarter of 2017, maintaining the positive growth of the sector even when there was a slow-down in the rest of the economy.

“The industrial sector grew at 8.83% mostly due to mining and quarrying.  The oil sector grew very strongly as forecast in the ERGP and partly as a result of the policy actions in the plan to restore growth in the sector.

“The service sector is yet to recover but should soon begin to be positively affected by the improvements in the real economy and the effects of the dedicated and focused capital spending of over N1.2 trillion on infrastructure by the Federal Government.

“It is expected that the economy will continue to grow given these developments and the reform, and improvements in the business environment shown by the upward movement of 24 places in the recently released World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Rankings which was better than the target of 20 places specified in the ERGP,” the statement reads in part.

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