Experts in the financial technology (fintech) industry have said that increased collaborations and investment by stakeholders in the industry will lead to economy growth, saying the sub-sector can create three million jobs in Nigeria in the next few years.
They stated this at the maiden Africa FinTech Foundry Disrupt (AFFD) Conference, sponsored by Access Bank Plc in Lagos.
The forum provided a platform for the experts to raise the advocacy with different panel discussions held to address pressing issues concerning the future of fintech.
According to the experts, for Nigerian economy to move forward, there is an urgent need for huge investment in the businesses of the future, which are technology-dependent.
They added that entrepreneurs must also be disruptive for financial technology (FinTech) economic prosperity of the nation.
Speaking at the forum, a former Minister of Communications, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, noted that over $5 billion had been invested in FinTech in 2017 alone with Africa claiming a good percentage of the money.
Omobola, whose presentation was entitled ‘Investing in Tomorrow,’ stressed that with increased investment in the FinTech industry, over three million jobs could be created.
She, however, noted that investment in the FinTech space transcended currencies only, as according to her, there is also the need for investment in time to think through FinTech innovations and broader skills that are capable of attracting local and foreign capitals into the local industry.
Also speaking, Executive Director, SystemSpecs, Mr. Deremi Atanda, urged the government to focus on technology to lead Nigeria to the desired economy that will create jobs and improve socio-economy prosperity of the nation.
He added that the FinTech space particularly would provide the government a unique opportunity to achieve this.
He said: “There should be people who can see FinTech as a unique opportunity in government. To use FinTech to lead Nigeria to the new economy will go beyond just talking and if the citizens are going to make a demand for that, the citizen needs to demand that government should not miss the opportunity.”
“We missed it with oil and now the younger people need to make an advocacy that government needs to look in the space of technology disruption, and this is going to create jobs as well,” he added.
Chairman, Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh, encouraged the Nigerian government to lead others in using platforms such as the AFFD to build a new generation of Nigerians, who can defend their wealth in the current digital age.
“This is an era in which you either disrupt or stand the risk of being disrupted. This reality is much more pronounced in the banking and financial services sector, hence the growing popularity of financial technologies or FinTech, as it is widely known.
“The landmark step taken by Access Bank shows the bank’s readiness for the future of disruption in the sector which is already here with us,” he stated.
Also, Head, African Fintech Foundry (AFF), Mr. Victor Okigbo, said that the Nigerian economy would benefit from the recent collaboration between banks and FinTechs, urging for more partnerships among players.
According to him, the disruptive FinTech industry should not be perceived as a threat by banks; rather it should be used as leverage to bring onboard the unbanked divide of the population.
Accenture: Technology fast changing lifestyles
Technology is now firmly embedded throughout our everyday lives and is reshaping large parts of society, Accenture’s Nigeria’s Managing Director Technology, Mr. Niyi Tayo, has said.
He said this during the presentation of a new report by the company in Lagos. Tayo explained that advancing technology is fueling intelligent enterprises and that this requires fundamental shift in leadership as contained in Accenture Tech Vision 2018.
According to him, just as cities developed around ports and then railroads, or people rebuilt their lives around electricity, the world today is reimagining itself around digital innovation — and, by extension, the companies that provide those services. He said this digital trend, thus, requires a new type of relationship, built on trust and the sharing of large amounts of personal information in a secure manner.
According to Tayo, Nigerian banks and telecommunication companies are also taking the first steps towards artificial intelligence (AI) to improve customer service by implementing chatbots. Besides, he said that they are beginning to use advanced analytics to provide next best product offers to increase product uptake and fraud analytics to manage risks.
The Technology Vision identifies five emerging technology trends that companies must address if they are to build the partnerships needed to succeed in today’s digital economy: The Technology Vision identifies five emerging technology trends that companies must address if they are to build the partnerships needed to succeed in today’s digital economy, which include citizen AI, extended reality, data veracity, frictionless business and Internet of Thinking (IoTh).
“Through these new partnerships with customers, employees and business collaborators, companies are building greater trust and further integrating themselves into society, becoming more indispensable and fueling their own growth,” Niyi said.
In the report, Accenture noted that adopting AI for growth and positive social impact means forming new partnerships with customers and business partners Rapid advances in AI and other technologies are accelerating the creation of intelligent enterprises and enabling companies to integrate themselves into people’s lives, according to the annual technology report that predicts key technology trends likely to disrupt business over the next three years.
However, capitalising on growth opportunities while also having a positive impact on society requires a new era of leadership that prioritizes trust and greater responsibility, the report said.
The 2018 study highlights how rapid advancements in technologies, including AI, advanced analytics and the cloud, are enabling companies to not just create innovative products and services, but change the way people work and live.
This, in turn, is changing companies’ relationships with their customers, employees and business partners. As part of the Technology Vision, Accenture surveyed more than 6,300 business and IT executives worldwide.
More than four in five respondents (84 per cent) agree that through technology, companies are weaving themselves seamlessly into the fabric of how people live today. For example, they reported that Google, through its many applications and analytics capabilities, has integrated itself into people’s everyday lives thereby influencing their way of life.
Google maps are used for journey management, references and suggestions on places, products and services of interest and through this, Google can shape people’s consumption behaviours. Also, Feedback from users can influence uptake of suggestions from Google by other people.
Govt warns against illegal telecoms installations
The Federal Government thorough her telecoms regulator, the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), has said there is no hiding place for perpetrators of illegal operations in the telecoms sector, warming them to desist from the act or face the wrath of law.
Head of Enforcement Unit at NCC, Mr. Salisu Abdu, who led a team of ‘enforcers’ from Abuja to Lagos to clamp down on organisations indulging in illegal telecoms equipment causing disruption to telecoms services, stated this in a statement made available to New Telgraph in Lagos.
The enforcement exercise, which took place at Ikoyi area of Lagos and led to the fishing out of four culprits using equipment that jam network, was embarked upon following complaints from a telecoms operators that its services were being disrupted in the Ikoyi area of Lagos.
Abdu explained that under the Nigerian Communication Act, 2003, it is illegal for any person or organisation to install any communications equipment capable of causing threats to service interoperability because such a practice degrades the quality of service, adding that GSM boosters was one of such equipment being used by the culprits to dampen quality of service on mobile networks.
“This equipment called GSM boosters were installed and were being used illegally. What they actually do with GSM Booster is to improve the quality of service in the user companies’ premises at the detriments of neighbouring residents.
“So, what the equipment does is to extort services from other telecoms services users around and localise within the user’s premises,” he said .
Digitising CBN’s anchor borrowers’ policy
Starting with Kebbi State in 2015, the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) has been replicated across the 36 states with enlistment of rice farmer group in the scheme’s second phase using technology devise for its administration. ABDULWAHAB ISA reports
Rice is Nigeria’s leading number one food in all homes. Its importation using scarce forex has gulped fortunes in excess of $2 billion. This was prior to the launch of the ABP on November 17, 2015 – a Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) agric lending scheme specifically tailored to address rice sufficiency.
A game changer in rice production, the programme was designed primarily to conserve scarce foreign exchange, which rice importation was inflicting on forex reserves.
To narrow the gap between heavy tonnes of imported rice and negligible tonnes produced locally, the CBN launched ABP in Kebbi state in 2015. The scheme was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari. For farmers to access the loan, the apex bank encouraged them to form cooperatives.
The bank has expended about N55 billion as loan grant to farmers on single digit rate.
Deadline on rice importation
The Federal Government restated its commitment to end rice importation by 2018 ending. In his new year message to Nigerians last January, President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigeria would end rice importation in 2018 to encourage local production.
“I am highly gratified that agriculture has picked up, contributing to the government’s effort to restructure the economy. Rice imports will stop this year. Local rice, fresher and more nutritious rice will be on our dishes from now on,” he said.
“By the same token, I am today appealing to enterprising Nigerians with ideas and unemployed graduates and other able-bodied and literate men and women with ideas, not to just sit and wait for employment from the government or the organised private sector.
“Great nations are built by enterprising people who turn their hands to anything that circumstances dictate.” Giving update on rice importation after the commencement of ABP, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development , Chief Audu Ogbeh, said there had been drastic drop in rice importation, adding that rice importation had dropped by 88.4 per cent last year.
The CBN is not relenting in its effort to attain rice sufficiency mandate of the president. The bank has expanded Anchor Borrowers’ Programme scope beyond the state. CBN, last week, entered into strategic partnership with Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) with a view to empowering over 12.2 million farmers under the fully digitalised second phase of the ABP.
Speaking at this year’s dry season farming, CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, said the biometric information of the farmers had been taken, their farm mapped out and biometric cards produced for each farmer.
He said the device would identity them while collecting the inputs from the service providers. Emefiele said the FCT farmers would be used to try the technological innovation introduced into the ABP, adding that the process would spread across 24 states participating under RIFAN-ABP dry season.
The bank said it would partner with other commodity associations such as maize, cassava, millet, sorghum and other staple foods to provide employment, reduce food import, boost export and earn foreign exchange. The governor was represented by his Special Assistant on Agriculture and Development Finance, Tunde Akande.
“The ABP started in November 2015. Under two years, we decided to upscale it. We’ve decided to collaborate with RIFAN but we’ll also partner with maize, cassava, sorghum, etc, using commody associations.
They have structures at all levels l he said. “We want to provide mentoring, extension services, etc to farmers through them. We can now provide tractorisation and all that. It’s about the loan being well utilised. “There is a guaranteed market for farmers under this programmme. We’ve deployed seamless technologies to them. We’ve taken their biometrics and we have their contacts.
Days of taking loans and inputs without accounting for them are over. In no distant time, we will attain food sufficiency and even export to earn foreign exchange.” Akande said all loans given to farmers under ABP, were mandatorily insured by the Nigeria Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC). He added that each farmer got N250,000 to cultivate one hectare of land for the dry season farming.
CBN’s rice revolution
CBN is spearheading the revolution in rice production value chain. The success recorded by ABP at the states where it was launched motivated the apex bank to enlist private stakeholders. The enlistment of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) marked the second phase of ABP.
In his assessment of the programme, President of RIFAN, Alhaji Aminu Goronyo, lauded President Muhammadu Buhari’s support and launch of the ABP in 2015, describing it as a huge success. Goronyo said about five million farmers would cultivate 200,000 hectares of land for rice production under a pilot scheme. “For two years, the ABP worked successfully as CBN/ state governments’ programme.
Now, it has graduated from government- government collaboration to government-private sector collaboration,” he said. “We launched the pilot scheme in Gwagwalada, Abuja on Tuesday. Other states have launched. It is tagged the RIFANCBN model.
“This collaboration is to put Nigeria on the right track in agribusiness. Before 2015, it was operating on an analogue model, thus making monitoring and compliance very challenging. So, all that was done in agriculture was not recordno in details.
“But with this, we’ve 500,000 farmers under this season’s farming. From this figure, we’ve 200,000 farmers for the dry season. “With this new digitalised programme, I can, from my phone, reach all the farmers. It’s a global innovation. Farmers are now accessible, verifiable and the entire process reliable. Anyone coming to do business with us can access us and work with reliable data.”
He added that RIFAN had national working committees and six zonal offices and heads at both local government and ward levels. He also disclosed that 32 states were currently onboard the ABP, adding that Benue, Nassarawa, Enugu and Cross River states could not join this year’s farming season as they could not tidy up their application and documentation processes before the deadline.
Besides, he said that such states would be part of the next phase.
The zeal and commitment demonstrated by the CBN to change rice production narrative through ABP is not only a channel to self-sufficiency but also a game changer in the nation’s agriculture sector.
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