By Obinna Chima
A former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigera (CBN), Prof. Kingsley Moghalu has stressed the need for strengthening of democratic institutions in Africa.
Moghalu, who stated this in an article titled: “Moving to better governance and inclusive growth,” published in a bulletin by the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF), an independent platform for dialogue and research, pointed out that acquiring power through the ballot box needs to be accompanied by a sense of the limitations imposed by the real meaning of democratic governance.
According to him, observing the presidential election campaign in the US, a more than 200-year-old democracy, provides avreminder of the need for some perspective when assessing the progress of democracy in Africa.
Moghalu, a professor of International Business and Public Policy at The Fletcher School at Tufts University, pointed out that a vast majority of Africa’s 54 nations are now democracies, is a good thing. This, he said represents a radical shift away from the military dictatorships that dominated the continent just a quarter of a century ago.
“The shift has come about partly in response to the innate urge for individual human freedom and free societies, and partly in response to the hegemonic forces of globalisation as the cold war ended in the late 1980s and the struggle between the Soviet and US superpowers ended on American terms.
Moreover – as a result of this – it has also come about in part in response to the felt need in African nations to meet the evolving minimum requirement for legitimacy in a global order increasingly based on democratic norms (even if the main international institution that spread these norms, the UN, is not fully democratic).
Democracy has been broadly good for Africa, but not because the dictatorships it replaced could not have created progress. Those military regimes failed largely because they were self-serving, and lacked a world view of economic transformation,” he said.
However, he said democracy in Africa needs to be organised around ideas that can lead to real progress.
Such ideas incorporate inclusive economic growth that will make the popular notion of ‘Africa rising’ more real than the media- or investor-led hype that has soured of late, even as the continent remains a business destination of today and tomorrow, he added.
“Third, an important lesson of Africa’s democratic trajectory is that, to create real wealth for Africa’s nations, democratic contests will require the participation of technocrats skilled in the art and science of leadership, economics, public policy and management, engineering, and innovation.
“This trend is already taking root in a few countries such as Ghana. In many other countries, the old guard of ‘chartered politicians’ still holds sway, conflating the longevity of their political careers with their perceived ability to take their citizens into the future in a competitive world. Africa’s citizens and voters must be educated to recognise the difference,” he said.
EFInA Supports Agency Banking With Grant
In a bid to expand financial services to the unbanked women in South-eastern Nigeria, Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA), a financial sector development organisation has released a Technical Assistance Grant to the tune of $100,015 to support FINCA Microfinance Bank’s agency banking network.
FINCA MFB is one of the financial institutions in Nigeria to significantly roll out a proprietary agent network to reach the unbanked markets. The agency banking network is expected to deliver convenient and secure financial services to the unbanked, especially women. Under the network, customers will be able to open new accounts, deposit and withdraw cash and perform account to account transfers through ‘agent’ assisted banking.
According to the Chief Executive Officer of EFInA, Chidinma Lawanson, “The FINCA agency banking network clearly aligns with EFInA’s key focus area of using agent banking as a means to reach many under-served and under-banked people, especially women. Through this project, FINCA MFB will offer a full suite of pro-poor savings and loan products to the under-banked people in the South East.
“In Nigeria, from our EFInA Access to Financial Services in Nigeria 2014 survey, bank penetration averages only 6.43 branches per 100,000 adults, and this figure is less in rural areas. The distance from bank branches and the associated high cost of servicing low-balance accounts are key challenges that increase financial exclusion of the poor, and this project primarily addresses these challenges”.
Furthermore, she said FINCA’s experience in several African countries showed that the deployment of agent banking network was a tool through which savings are mobilised.
Moody’s Affirms Sterling Bank’s Ratings
Sterling Bank at the weekend disclosed that its ratings were recently affirmed by Moody’s.
The bank said it showed deeper pliability through the re-affirmation of its investment grade ratings by the international credit rating agencies at a time when corporate and sovereign ratings were under pressure.
According to the bank, Moody’s Investors Service, in its September Credit Opinion update, re-affirmed its Issuer Credit rating of b2 and the standalone Baseline Credit Assessment (BCA) ratings of B3 with a stable outlook.
Specifically, Moody’s cited the bank’s solid asset quality metrics and provision coverage as well as improvements in the lender’s IT infrastructure and risk management processes, among others.
Recently, Global Credit Ratings (GCR), an international rating agency, also affirmed Sterling Bank’s national long term and short-term credit ratings of BBB and A3 respectively with a stable outlook.
Commenting on the action, the bank’s Executive Director, Finance and Strategy, Mr. Abubakar Suleiman, said the outcome of the ratings reflected the bank’s strong performance and resilience amidst challenging operating conditions, and validates its business models.
It would be recalled that the Bank recently raised additional N8 billion through a debt issuance, which was part of its approved programme for tier 2 capital in the sum of N35 billion. This further strengthened the bank’s capital adequacy, which is above the required regulatory threshold.
Fidelity Bank Rewards Customers with N9m
A total of N9million was won by six customers of Fidelity Bank Plc in the first draw of the bank’s “Get Alert in Million” promo.
The draw, which was for customers across the country, saw the emergence of Abiche Mary Iyefun, of Abuja branch who won N3million as the star prize winner. Also, Damilola Emmanuel of its Egbeda branch, Lagos, won N2million.
In the same vein, Umar Yahaya, Dele Femi Omoniyi, Duru Alphonsus and Ogadimma Jecinta Iwuoma all won N1million respectively.
Some other consolation prizes were won.
The bank’s Executive Director, Mrs. Chijioke Ugochukwu said the promo was introduced to reward customers’ loyalty as well as to deepen banking culture.
In all, the bank intend to reward customers with a total of N105 million. She said the promo, which is the sixth in a series, would help to deepen financial inclusion, saying that savings would help lift a lot of Nigerians out of poverty.
The bank had said: “Basically, this is a promo like no other. It will help lucky winners with cash, which is very important. We are urging our customers and prospective customers to save for projects and qualify for the coming rewards.”
The bank had also explained that throughout the duration of the promo, three customers will win N5 million each on quarterly basis; cash prizes of N3 million, N2 million and N1 million will be given out as first, second and third prizes respectively, at monthly draws category. Also, more than 138 consolation prize winners will emerge at during the duration of the promo.