The United Bank for Africa (UBA) said will continue to support intra-African trade and increase financial inclusion in Africa by providing services that encourage investment and trade on the continent.
The bank is excited about the possibilities the future holds for intra-African trade, with the required number of countries ratifying the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).
The agreement will create a single African market of more than a billion consumers with a total GDP of over $3 trillion.
“UBA is well-positioned to support individuals and businesses when AfCFTA comes into force,” Chiugo Ndubisi, group executive, transformation and resources, said during the Africa Day Celebration, at the just concluded 2019 Lagos International Trade Fair, with the theme Boosting Intra Africa Trade: Institutions, Finance and Technology.
He said financial inclusion is one of the major channels through which technology can affect trade within Africa. This, he said will ensure improved access to financial services across Africa, especially with the growing adoption of mobile financial services, which increases reach.
Financial institutions like the United Bank for Africa have taken up the Financial Inclusion challenge, using different digital channels to expand access to financial services.
“Our USSD banking service *919# enables people to perform banking transactions on their phones without internet access, allowing us to reach a significant percentage of Nigerians who have been previously excluded from financial services,” Ndubisi said.
According to him, while the multiplicity of currencies in Africa creates a bottleneck when in our quest to make every UBA branch a home branch to our customers, regardless of the African country they come from, we have recorded impressive success in this regard, introducing UBAConnect, a service that has effectively supported trade in the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) region.”
On his part, Babatunde Paul Ruwase, President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), while addressing the participants and business owners said: “The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is a welcome development for us, and we are glad almost all African nations have shown interest As of July 2019, there are 27 ratifying countries and 54 signatories to the agreement. We believe the pact will further boost trade in a continent with a population of 1.2 billion and market size of about U$2.5 trillion, as it allows members to specialize in their areas of comparative advantage.”
“However, it is important to note that AfCFTA may not work out as planned if members fail to reform their business environment, diversify their exports base, fix their infrastructural problems, address regulatory challenges as well as institutional constraints, and map out strategies to improve their economic competitiveness.”