The Group Managing Director of the United Bank for Africa (UBA), Mr. Oliver Alawuba, yesterday declared that African women must be empowered to become critical stakeholders in the development agenda before the continent could unlock its abundant opportunities which are in its people, natural resources and talents.
Alawuba stated this in Lagos, during the UBA Africa Conversation 2023, with the theme “Innovating the Continent for Growth,” which reflected the United Nations’ and the Africa Unions’ vision of innovation, technology and the need to create opportunities in the continent.
He said: “The irony of African challenge is that in Africa we have challenges and opportunities sitting side by side. Now between the opportunities and the challenges there can be a gap. How big the gap is, is actually the conversation. If you think the gap between the challenges and Africa is huge then the conversation will take too long.
“But for us in the UBA, we believe that between the challenges and the opportunities is a thin line. And we are committed to unlocking the opportunities in other to fill up those challenges.
“This year too, we are believing that women of Africa need to be celebrated. And we think for us to unlock those opportunities, we must empower African women to be critical stakeholders in the development agenda for Africa.
“So today, we have carefully chosen this conversation to celebrate the achievements of the African women. We are going to have a panel today that will be really amaze you and give you the confidence that we are on the right path to development.”
He stated that UBA Group was expressing its believe in empowering women by ensuring that over 50 per cent of members of its board were made up of women, adding that the bank was committed to developing financial products that would address the needs of the African woman.
“In the UBA too,” says Alawuba, “we will continue to develop products that will speak to the challenges that African women are going through in their businesses and their workplaces.
“You would like to know that in UBA we are the banks with the highest number of female directors on the board. Over 50 per cent of our board members are females. And out of those women we have three executive directors. In fact, for the first time in the life of the UBA, we have one of the executive directors as the chief executive officer of the UBA Ghana. And she is one of the panelists that you are going to hear from today.”
He added: “We know that in Africa we have a continent of vast opportunities, talents and resources that we need to unlock.
“So, as individuals and as corporates we need to corporate with each other to innovate and create the change needed to develop this continent. The time to develop it is now. The people to develop it are we here. And like our group chairman will always say ‘no one but us can develop Africa.’”
The GMD of UBA further stated that he believed that the founders of the African Union (AU) had today and, “us in mind in all their discussions when they believed that a time would come, and that time I do say is now, when we take up the challenge to develop this continent for ourselves and our future generation.”
He explained that a look at UBA’s vision and mission statements would highlight two critical words: Africa and institution.
“So, our institution is more than a bank. UBA is more than a bank. We have a mission to change Africa. We have a mission to change the world. And we believe that once we change Africa, we will indeed change the world,” he said.
Alawuba noted that the theme for this year’s conversation was apt to the challenges and economic problems that Africa is going through now in a world of turmoil.
He said the 2023 conversation was part of the UBA’s annual Africa Day celebration because the banking institution is highly committed to Africa becoming the continent of the future.
“So, the month of May is a month that everyone in UBA looks up to because we believe that Africa needs to be celebrated. Our culture and our uniqueness as Africans need to be celebrated too,” he said.
The 2023 UBA Africa Conversation was graced by the Group Chairman of UBA, Mr. Tony Elumelu, who lent support to the event that commemorated Africa Day.
The all-female choice panelists were made up of the Chief Executive Officer of UBA Ghana, Ms. Abiola Bawuah; President and Group Chief Executive Officer of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria (Transcorp), Mrs. Owen Diana Omogiafo; Business and Technology Executive, Ms. Foluso Gbadamosi; the current holder of Guinness World Record for Longest Cooking Time, Ms. Hilda Effiong Bassey and the Creative Director and Founder Bankee Kuku, Ms. Bankee Kuku-Lawson.