FG Directs Extension of Anchor Borrower Programme to 14 States

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Obinna Chima

President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and its development partners, such as the Bank of Industry (BoI) to extend the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) to 14 other states in the country.

The Executive Director, Corporate Servises and Commercial, BoI, Mr. Jonathan Tobin, disclosed this in a presentation he made at a media parley organised by the BoI in Lagos.

Some of the states are Sokoto, Niger, Kaduna, Katsina, Jigawa, Kano, Zamfara, Admawa, Plateau, Lagos, Ogun, Cross-Rivers and Ebonyi.

The central bank last year commenced the pilot phase of the programme with rice production in Kebbi state.

The ABP aims at creating economic linkages between over 600,000 smallholder farmers and reputable large-scale processors with a view to increasing agricultural output and significantly improving capacity utilisation of integrated mills. It is also expected to close the gap between the levels of local rice production and domestic consumption, as well as complement the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) Scheme of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture by graduating GES farmers from subsistence farming to commercial production.

“I have it on good authority that Mr. President has directed that what was done in Kebbi state under the ABP be replicated in 14 other states. So, they are walking round the clock to ensure that the ABP is replicated, not only on rice, wheat, oil palm and various other commodities that states have comparative advantage in their production,” Tobin said.
According to him, a recent report disclosed that Africa spends $35.4 billion on food imports annually. Out of this, Nigeria accounts for $11 billion of this amount, which he said wasn’t helpful to the country’s quest for food sufficiency and economic diversification.

Tobin further said a total of 78,000 farmers were trained in Kebbi state under the programme, just as he commended the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele and the Governor of Kebbi state for their passion towards to ABP.
Earlier, the acting Managing Director, BoI, Mr. Waheed Olagunju, said as a financial institution, confidence is very important, just as he urged journalists to continue to support the Bank.

“For you to attract financial resources from your shareholders or development partners, you must be positively perceived before anybody would be able to part with its resources. That is why it is important to ensure that cconfidence is sustained. That is the only way we can achieve our objectives,” he added.

Olagunju pointed out that Nigeria is highly blessed, saying that the country has all it takes to attain its potential.
“Nigeria is among 20 countries in the world with population above 20 million. But your population can either be an asset or a liability to you. If we are exporting most of what we produce, it is an asset, but if we are importing most of what we consume, then it is an asset. There is a relationship between population and GDP growth.

“Apart from human resources, we have a lot of natural resources – agriculture, solid minerals, then of course, oil and gas. Each of the 774 local governments in Nigeria have natural resources that have been identified. So, we need to continue to sensitise Nigerians on what those natural resources can do so that they can use the opportunity to create wealth and jobs,” he added.

UBA Partners MasterCard on e-Payment
The United Bank for Africa (UBA) and MasterCard have announced a partnership which will see UBA act as the issuer for MasterCard in 18 new markets in Africa. The partnership which came into effect in the second quarter of 2016 will see UBA issue MasterCard credit, debit and prepaid cards across these markets.

The partnership will also focus on increased payments infrastructure across Africa, including the roll out of point-of-sale and mobile-point-of-sale technology, to ensure merchants are able to accept the cards when introduced into these markets.
MasterCard and UBA are partnering across the 19 African countries in which UBA currently operates: Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Cote D’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Republic of Congo, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

“As the needs of our customers change, we are adapting through strategic innovations and partnerships to provide them with excellent and convenient services. Through these strategic partnerships, we are able to accelerate the drive for financial inclusion and economic well-being across the African continent,” the bank’s Group Managing Director-Designate, Kennedy Uzoka said in a statement.

Also, the Division President for Sub-Saharan Africa, MasterCard, Daniel Monehin said: “This focus on infrastructure and the roll out of easy-to-access solutions is a key part of driving financial inclusion and a move away from cash in these markets. MasterCard’s continued innovation in the payments space coupled with UBA’s extensive pan-African network will mean the introduction of increased competition and a stronger financial sector in these regions.”

According to the World Bank there are approximately 2.5 billion people who are financially excluded. Access to financial tools creates economic empowerment and reduces poverty. MasterCard has the tools and resources – including potential partnerships – to drive real change today.

MasterCard recently set a goal to connect 40 million micro and small merchants to its electronic payments network within five years. This expands on the company’s Universal Financial Access 2020 commitment made last year.

To date, financial inclusion has been predominantly centered on providing the underserved and the unbanked with tools and transaction accounts. This remains a critical need with two billion unbanked people, the majority of whom are women, forced to operate in a cash economy. In order for financial inclusion efforts to truly have an impact, there needs to be an equal focus on both access and usage.

“Collaborating with UBA has allowed for maximum impact when it comes to changing lives and introducing smarter ways for people to pay in Africa. Creating financially inclusive societies is dependent on these kinds of partnerships and we will continue to look for ways to partner in Africa going forward,” Monehin said.