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NigeriaDecides2023

Assessing Zenith Bank’s commitment in promoting non-oil exports

Nigeria has been a mono-product economy for many years relying strongly on crude oil as her major source of revenue.

To diversify the country’s revenue base, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the bankers committee have embarked on some initiatives to promote non-oil exports.

On February 10, 2022, Godwin Emefiele, governor of the CBN personally unveiled the RT200 FX Program, which is an initiative of the Bankers’ Committee aimed at raising $200 billion in non-oil export earnings over the next three to five years.

As part of efforts towards promoting non-oil exports in the country, Zenith Bank Plc. Last month gathered stakeholders in the sector and across sectors of the economy to brainstorm on ‘Unlocking Opportunities in Nigeria’s Non-Oil Export Business’, at its 7th annual edition of the International trade seminar held virtually and physically in Lagos.

Ebenezer Onyeagwu, group managing director, said Zenith bank’s trade seminar has served as a veritable platform to deepen the conversation on promoting non-oil export in Nigeria, bringing together non-oil export practitioners and relevant government agencies to interact and explore the opportunities and proffer solutions to the challenges of non-oil export in the country.

He said the bank has trained over 100 exporters through its ‘Zero to Hero’ programmes which provide a platform for grooming and exposing beginners to become strong exporters by providing training on documentation, product sourcing, access to market and financing. He promised that Zenith Bank would continue the advocacy of promoting non-oil export.

On the outcomes of the past six seminar editions, Onyeagwu noted that previous editions’ outcomes have found expression and influenced policy initiatives.

He gave an instance of the extension of the period of repatriation of non-oil export proceeds from 90 days to 180 days and the policy mandating shippers not to carry export without a Nigeria Export Proceeds (NXP) Form Number, as part of the recommendations from previous seminars.

According to him, the need to incentivise exporters to repatriate their export proceeds through the official channels and the recommendation to create export terminals across various export hubs in the country were also from past seminars, adding that previous editions recommended having export desks in commercial banks, which has now been instituted.

Jim Ovia, founder/chairman of the bank who gave a goodwill message during the seminar, emphasized on the need for a concerted effort towards diversifying Nigeria’s export base through the promotion of non-oil exports.

He noted that Nigeria exported cocoa and several other non-oil products for years before oil was discovered.

Citing an example of the 25-storey Cocoa house in Ibadan, which was built with proceeds from cocoa exports, he said many countries in the world, such as Japan and China have been successful because they are doing a great deal of innovation, production and manufacturing of goods and services.

Ovia advised the country to look at promoting the nation’s non-oil export sector through technology to create technological giants like Apple, Tesla, and Google.

“We already have technology companies in this mold in Nigeria, such as Flutterwave, which has a valuation of $3 billion, making it more valuable than some banks in Nigeria,” he said.

He said the most capitalised companies in the world, such as Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Tesla, and Visa, among others, are not oil companies but are in the technological innovation space.

Furthermore, he highlighted the phenomenal growth of Nigeria’s emerging financial technology (Fintech) companies such as Flutherwave, OPay, Interswitch, Kuda and Paystack, with market valuations of $3 billion, $2 billion, $1 billion, $500 million, $200 million, respectively. According to him, this underscores the enormous opportunity in the Fintech space.

In his goodwill message, Emefiele, commended Zenith Bank and its leadership led by Ovia for its laudable initiative in organising an annual export seminar to explore opportunities in Nigeria’s non-oil export with a view to increasing the nation’s non-oil export base and ultimately increasing its share as a percentage of total export.

He said the theme of this year’s seminar is timely and appropriate because the global economy and structure are changing rapidly.

“The previous world economic order underpinned by globalisation and seamless trade possibilities seems to be suffering major disruptions lately. We believe Nigeria has a lot of potentials, and we can harness this for the good of our people and country,” he said.

Emefiele noted that the CBN has undertaken several initiatives to promote the non-oil export sector because of its firm belief that the non-oil export sector holds enormous potential to contribute to employment generation, wealth creation and economic growth of the country.

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Despite economic headwinds and a persistent challenging macroeconomic environment, Nigeria’s banks bounced back in 2021.

A rebound in oil revenues, which has extended into 2022, has helped the country return to economic growth following its worst recession in more than 20 years, according to The Banker Magazine, the key source of data and analysis for the world’s banking sector.

The Banker’s Top 1000 World Banks has been setting the industry benchmark since 1970. The ranking identifies the top 1000 biggest banks and is the definitive guide to identifying which banks are the strongest in the world, based on more than 120 data points tracked in The Banker Database year on year.

In its latest rankings, all five of Nigeria’s largest commercial banks reported increases in Tier 1 capital during the year, compared with just one in 2020.

The lenders include Zenith Bank Plc, Access Bank, GTBank, First Bank of Nigeria and UBA.

Tier 1 Capital describes capital adequacy, which is the core measure of a bank’s financial strength from a regulator’s point of view. According to the ranking, Tier 1 Capital, as defined by the latest Bank for International Settlements (BIS) guidelines, includes loss-absorbing capital, i.e. common stock, disclosed reserves, retained earnings and minority interests in the equity of subsidiaries that are less than wholly owned.

Zenith Bank remains Nigeria’s largest lender, with its Tier 1 capital base increasing by 4.2 percent to $2.75 billion.

For the 13th consecutive year, the bank retained its position as the number one Tier-1 bank in Nigeria with a Tier-1 Capital of $2.75 billion, emerging as the 460th Bank globally.

The ranking, which was published in the July 2022 edition of The Banker Magazine of the Financial Times Group, United Kingdom, was based on the 2021 year-end Tier-1 capital of banks globally.

Two months ago, Zenith Bank Plc emerged as the Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria, at the World Finance Banking Awards 2022, retaining the award for a second consecutive year. The bank was also named as the Best Corporate Governance Bank, Nigeria in the World Finance Corporate Governance Awards 2022.

The bank’s numerous recognition reflects its vision to become the leading Nigerian, technology-driven, global financial institution that provides a distinctive range of financial services.

In its mission statement, the bank said it would build the zenith brand into a reputable international financial institution recognized for innovation, superior performance and creation of premium value for all stakeholders.

Zenith Bank is spearheaded by Ebenezer Onyeagwu, group managing director/CEO, who has over 29 years of experience in the banking industry in Nigeria out of which 18 years is with Zenith Bank Plc where he rose through the ranks and was appointed to the current position in June 1, 2019.

The awards from the World Finance, which were presented to Onyeagwu at the London Stock Exchange, were in recognition of the bank’s ability to embrace digital transformation and best-in-class sustainability and corporate governance practices, leading to a stellar business performance in a difficult economic climate.

“These awards reflect our strong business fundamentals, resilience and ability to adapt to the ever-changing dynamics of the market through our innovative solutions, as well as our commitment to global best practices,” Onyeagwu said.

“As a member and signatory to various domestic and international sustainability frameworks including the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria Sustainable Banking Principles, we continue to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by creating value for our shareholders, customers, clients, investors, communities and the environment through our practices, operations and investments,” he said.

The bank’s CEO dedicated the awards to Ovia, for his pioneering role in building the structures and laying the foundation for an enduring and very successful institution; the board for the outstanding leadership they provide; the staff for their commitment and dedication; and the bank’s customers for making Zenith Bank their preferred financial Institution.

World Finance is a leading international magazine providing comprehensive coverage and analysis of the financial industry, international business and the global economy. The editorial combines award-winning reportage, covering a broad range of topics from banking and insurance to wealth management and infrastructure investment, with contributions from some of the world’s most well-respected economists and theorists as well as consultants in government think tanks and the World Economic Forum.

Zenith Bank’s financial performance for the year 2021 was underpinned by double-digit growth of 10 percent in gross earnings, with an improved market share in both retail and corporate sectors despite a very challenging macroeconomic environment aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commenting on the 2022 Top 1000 World Banks Ranking, Onyeagwu, said: “This ranking is a testament to our resilience and doggedness as an institution despite economic headwinds and a persistent challenging macroeconomic environment. Indeed, being ranked as the Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital for the thirteenth year in a row underscores our commitment to sustaining the superior performance we are renowned for and creating value for our highly esteemed customers.”

He expressed his appreciation to Ovia, for his guidance and for laying the foundation and building the structures of an enduring and very successful institution; the Board for the outstanding leadership they provide; the staff, whose drive and commitment sustains the exceptional performance; and the Bank’s customers for their unflinching loyalty to the Zenith brand.

Zenith Bank’s track record of excellent performance has continued to earn the brand numerous awards, with this latest accolade coming on the heels of several recognitions, including being recognised as the Best Bank in Nigeria for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, in the Global Finance World’s Best Banks Awards; Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria 2021 and 2022 in the World Finance Banking Awards; Best Corporate Governance Bank, Nigeria in the World Finance Corporate Governance Awards 2022; Best in Corporate Governance ‘Financial Services’ Africa, for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, by the Ethical Boardroom; Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria and Best Innovation In Retail Banking, Nigeria in the International Banker 2022 Banking Awards; and Bank of the Year (Nigeria) in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards 2020. Also, the Bank emerged as the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in the Banker Magazine Top 500 Banking Brands 2020 and 2021, and the Retail Bank of the year at the BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BOFI) Awards 2020 and 2021.

Similarly, Zenith Bank was honoured as Bank of the Decade (People’s Choice) at the ThisDay Awards 2020 and emerged winner in four categories at the Sustainability, Enterprise, and Responsibility (SERAS) Awards 2021, carting home the awards for “Best Company in Reporting and Transparency”, “Best Company in Infrastructure Development”, “Best Company in Gender Equality and Women Empowerment”, and the coveted “Most Responsible Organisation in Africa.

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