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EFInA Survey Shows 58.4% Nigerian Adults Now Financially Served

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(L-r): Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, chairman Senate Committee on Banking & Financial Institutions; Ms. Modupe Ladipo, chair, EFInA’s Board; Dr. Obiageli ‘Oby’ Ezekwesili, Senior Economic Advisor, Open Society Foundations (OSF); Her Majesty Queen Maxima, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Financial Inclusion for Development, of the Netherlands and Lamido Sanusi Lamido, Emir of Kano, at the EFInA Financial Inclusion Workshop in Abuja.

By peter oluka

In a bid to reduce poverty and achieve inclusive economic growth in Nigeria, Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA), a financial sector development organization hosted a workshop with stakeholders such as the Federal Government, United Nations (UN), Heads of Federal Financial Inclusion Initiatives, Academics, Financial Institutions and Financial Services Regulators in Nigeria to advocate for the implementation of policies to drive financial inclusion in Nigeria.

The theme of the workshop was ‘’The Role of Government in Driving Financial Inclusion in Nigeria’’.

Ms. Modupe Ladipo, the chair of EFInA’s Board, shared key barriers responsible for increasing the financially excluded population in Nigeria.

She indicated that “generally, income levels in Nigeria are very low. 19.6% of Nigerians mainly get their source of income from non-farming business while 19.1% get theirs from family business (subsistence or commercial farming).

Only 4.2% of the adult population get their source of income from the formal sector. In addition, she commented that EFInA observed that the North has a high level of financial exclusion. This is as a result of massive job losses, limited resources and no basic necessities of opening a bank account.

Out of 96.4 million adults in Nigeria, 56.3 million (58.4% of the adult population) are now financially served.

40.1 million Nigerian adults (41.6% of the adult population) are financially excluded (without any form of access to financial services). The National Financial Inclusion Strategy target is to lower this figure to 20.0% of the adult population by 2020’’.

She highlighted the issue of inaccurate data in assessing economic growth in Nigeria. ‘‘There are lots of issues in terms of validation and credibility. According to National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), only 6% of Nigerians are duly registered as at 2016. Only 24% of the population has a Bank Verification Number (BVN). We really need to devise how to get a unique form of identification so that we can start to address some of these issues.

She emphasized that the number of microfinance adult users declined from 2.6 million in 2014 to 1.8 million in 2016.

There is a general problem around trust as the licenses of some microfinance banks have been revoked. With a lot of bank charges, account owners are left with little money in their bank account.

Similarly, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, Her Majesty, Queen Maxima of Netherlands, gave a keynote address on the ‘Transformative Power of Financial Inclusion’.

She stated that adopting inclusive strategy is a powerful tool to expanding opportunities for all Nigerians.

She highlighted the current progress made in the National Financial Inclusion Strategy, and emphasised to stakeholders the need for high-level political leadership and the participation of the private sector in achieving the targets. Queen Maxima went on to stress that allowing mobile operators to provide mobile money accounts can be a game changer for financial inclusion in Nigeria, and that stakeholders prioritise the development of inclusive retail e-payments system that serves as a basis to distribute other financial services such as savings, payment, credit and insurance services.

She stated that the process of revising Nigeria’s financial strategy indicates huge opportunities to leverage technology. ‘‘Utilizing technology and expanding mobile money is one of the most promising tools to addressing this gap.  It allows user to access their accounts remotely through their mobile devices.

Currently Nigeria has 58.2 million unique mobile phone users, the contrast to 27 million using mobile banking.

This underscores the immense potential which mobile banking shows for advancing financial inclusion.

The Chairman Senate Committee on Banking and Financial Institutions, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, shared insights on “The Role of Government in Ensuring Financial Institutions Address the Needs of Masses”.

Senator Ibrahim highlighted Federal Government initiatives aimed at promoting economic stability and deepening financial inclusion in Nigeria. He stated that the Government would support mobile banking efforts, and lay the framework to permit mobile network operators to deepen its penetration.

The Governor of Central Bank, Mr. Godwin Emiefiele (CON), in his address delivered by Director, Development Financing, CBN, Mr. Mudashiru Olaitan, explained that initiatives like the Bank Verification Number scheme and others have addressed issues connected to identification in the banking system. ‘‘As we progress in our financial inclusion effort, the need to develop the competences of relevant institutions must be pursued.

Some of the issues we need to address include low infrastructure in rural areas, low income, low saving culture, high unemployment and cultural & religious barriers.

Government has a critical role to play in order to promote inclusive financial execution. Government needs to provide an enabling environment to support the entire value chain within the financial sector to achieve its objectives.

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E-Financial

AfDB Expects Nigeria’s Economy to Grow at 2.1% in 2018

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) has predicted a positive outlook for Nigeria’s economic in 2018.

The bank in its 2018 African Economic Outlook projected that Nigeria’s economy would grow at 2.1 per cent in 2018 and 2.5 per cent in 2019.

According to AfDB, this outlook is anchored on higher oil prices and production, as well as stronger agricultural performance.

Notwithstanding this positive outlook for the country, the AfDB said Nigeria still faces significant challenges, including foreign exchange shortages, disruptions in fuel supply, power shortages, and insecurity in some parts of the country.

“In addition, revenue mobilization efforts are insufficient; at 5 per cent, value added tax rates are among the lowest in the world, and revenue administration is inefficient. Poverty is unacceptably high; nearly 80 per cent of Nigeria’s 190 million people live on less than $2 a day,” the bank said in its report.

Looking into the future, the AfDB economic prediction on Nigeria noted that “oil prices rebounded to an average of $52 per barrel (Brent crude) in 2017 and are projected to reach $54 in 2018, up from $43 per barrel in 2016.”

“Oil production also increased from 1.45 million barrels per day in the first quarter of 2017 to 2.03 million in the third quarter of 2017 following de-escalation of hostilities in the Niger Delta region and is expected to remain at the same level in 2018 and 2019, in tandem with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) production restrictions,” AfDB added.

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Bitcoin Deeps Less Than $10,000 For The First Time Since December

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Bitcoin, the dominant digital currency, witnessed a slump on Wednesday following a recent surge to trade below $10,000 for the first time since the start of December.

 

Market analysis suggests that the price could shift in either direction and recent regulatory developments – out of South Korea and China in particular – could roil markets further, according to some observers.

 

Craig Erlam, senior market analyst Oanda trading group, said of bitcoin’s drop below $10,000 “There was clearly a significant speculative component to the rally late last year and the drop will be very discouraging to those that previously thought there was easy money to be made”.

 

Bitcoin is down from record highs approaching $20,000 in the week before Christmas, having rocketed 25-fold last year, before being hit by concerns about a bubble and worries about crackdowns on trading it.

 

David Cheetham, chief market analyst XTB noted that, “The panic-selling seen across all the major cryptocurrencies could be attributed to a possible regulatory clampdown in South Korea with authorities threatening to place an outright ban on cryptocurrency trading,”

 

“Having said that, this narrative has been around for many weeks now and isn’t really new but it has once more raised the spectre of tighter regulation on this market.”

 

 

 

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NSE Awaits Signing of Bill to be Publicly Listed

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Oscar Onyema, chief executive officer, the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) expects a bill that will allow the exchange to be publicly listed signed into law this year.

The second-biggest exchange in sub-Saharan Africa after Johannesburg and a main entry point for investors in Africa, the Nigerian bourse last year got a green light from its members, mostly stockbrokers and some institutional investors, to become a publicly listed company.

Oscar Onyema, NSE, CEO, said yesterday, he expects the public listing, a process known as demutualisation, to generate profits that will boost its business and product development capacity.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange, the continent’s most developed stock market, has been a listed company since 2006.

“In 2017, we amplified our efforts to establish West Africa’s first derivatives market,” Onyema told analysts discussing the outlook for 2018.

“We also worked to create and enhance legal and regulatory frameworks which support derivative instruments, and have made significant progress towards securing approvals to operationalize these frameworks.”

The equities market in Nigeria was the third best-performing market in the world in 2017 after the central bank liberalised the naira for foreign investors, a move which lured back funds that been pulled out at the peak of a currency crisis.

Onyema attributed last year’s performance partly to central bank policies that helped increased currency market liquidity.

He added that he expected corporate earnings to lift equities this year, despite currency and political risks, after stocks crossed 44,000 points to hit a nine-year high on Tuesday.

Stocks gained 42 percent last year and have continued to rally this year, rising 13 percent in the first 11 days of trading.

Onyema said the market for initial public offerings remained inactive, noting that there are plans to revive new issues.

Nigeria’s bourse has around 200 listed companies and plans to launch exchange-traded derivatives securities this year.

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