The need to raise Nigeria and Nigerians from poverty to prosperity was the anchor point for economists, captains of industries, key policymakers and corporate institutions like the First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) at the recent 24th edition of the Nigeria Economic Summit (NES#24) in Abuja.
The two-day summit themed: ‘Poverty to Prosperity: Making Government and Institutions Work’, was organised by the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) with support from the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, had President Muhammadu Buhari represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
NES#24: How we’re boosting infrastructural provision – Buhari
President Buhari at the summit said government has spent over N2.7 trillion in the last three years to develop key infrastructures that include rail, road, power among others that will aid business development and economic growth.
He said government will ensure about 30 per cent of the annual budgetary spending is sustained on capital expenditure. “Therefore, infrastructure based policy will not only reduce unemployment but also improve the living condition,” Osinbajo who represented the President said.
Chairman of NESG, Asue Ighodalo called for more actions towards reducing unemployment and underemployment. He said: “The latest jobs report from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows that the combined unemployment and underemployment rates rose from 35.2 per cent in Q4 2016 to 40 per cent by Q3 2017.”
Ighodalo noted that from the report, about four million Nigerians may have lost their jobs, remained unemployed or were employed at jobs that can’t cater to their needs.
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma said the States through the National Economic Council (NEC) were being carried along to strengthen capacity for the implementation of the governance components of the Economic Reform and Growth Plan (ERGP).
On her part, the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed while speaking as a panelist on a session for sustainable economic opportunities for Nigeria said the federal government was working with the private sector to raise access to finance for small scale businesses, while expanding the reach of infrastructure.
We’ve actively supported NES for 20yrs
FirstBank in its brief justified its 20th year sponsorship for the 23 year old Summit saying it “has helped shape many of the reform policies that have underpinned the evolution of the nation’s economic growth strategy.”
The bank in its policy thrust document obtained by this paper said the summit positions the Bank as a front-liner in driving strategic policy influencing initiatives for national economic development.
The platform has worked as Launchpad for the Bank to pursuing business development opportunities through Public-Private sector Partnerships (PPP).
One of the several opportunities for promoting local enterprises by the Bank was at the NES#22, themed ‘Made in Nigeria’.
FirstBank which was deeply involved in the deliberation on the practical issues and panaceas to achieving the “Made in Nigeria” vision, presented various economic analysis to support such cause.
Chairman of FirstBank, Mrs Ibukun Awosika, a panel discussant at the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ Plenary Session during the summit brought out her entrepreneurial skills, unveiling secrets on how to do business and prosper in it.
Bank holds 3 multi-sector summits in 5 months
Besides being a consistent sponsor of the annual NES, FirstBank has sustained renowned multi-sector summits and expo. Analysis of the bank’s report shows that between June and October 2018, it created three platforms to support technology, export and import businesses and the agriculture sector.
A three day FINTECH Summit 2018 themed: ‘The Future of Banking – The Role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data was held between October 11, 12 and 17 in Lagos. The Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications of the Bank, Folake Ani-Mumuney said the first two days of the summit was for a coding competition tagged, Hackathon. The core summit then held the third day where over 700 Fintech players, key stakeholders and tech lovers participated.
At the Hackathon, 10 teams contested for the grand prize of N3 million as they showed off their technological and artificial intelligence capabilities with the second and third best teams winning N1.5m and N750,000. They also showcased their tech solutions at the core Fintech summit.
Away from the youth and tech-lovers oriented summit, FirstBank said on July 17, 2018, it held the FirstBank Chinese Business Forum to deepen intercontinental partnerships.
The forum was also an affirmation for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recent currency swap agreement with the Peoples Bank of China to ease liquidity issues faced by Nigerian entrepreneurs. FirstBank is among the four banks appointed as settlement banks in the deal.
The Managing Director/CEO, First Bank of Nigeria Limited & Subsidiaries, Adesola Adeduntan at the forum, said the Bank has a Representative Office in Beijing, China since 2010 adding that: “Our promise is that we will always deliver the ultimate gold standard of value and financial excellence as we put customers at the heart of our business.” It is the first Nigerian bank to record its presence in the Asian country.
In pursuit of sustainable economic diversification in Nigeria, FirstBank held the ‘FIRSTBANK AGRIC EXPO 2018’ on June 28, 2018 in Lagos state. The Expo triggered conversations and collaborations that promote sustainable businesses for Agropreneurs whilst creating avenues for growth and increased per capita income in the larger economy.
Launched in 2017, the is a lead to national discourse on the economic benefits of sustainable agriculture value-chain as an alternative source of economic development and foreign exchange through export.
FirstBank said the 2018 edition was over-subscribed by 100 per cent. Dr Adeduntan said: “Over 124 years ago, our Bank commenced operations with a major strategic focus on financing agriculture development as well as enabling farmers and agrobusinesses.”
He added that agricultural financing across all value chains has remained a core part of the Bank’s business at present.
The Expo featured master classes facilitated by enterprising experts who shared their success stories with focus on building capacity for agropreneurs.