Alawuba: With N18tn Customer Deposits, UBA Poised to Sustain Industry Leadership, Finance SMEs Across Africa

•To seek shareholders’ nod for recapitalisation Friday 

•Commits to $6bn intra-Africa trade support

Eromosele Abiodun, Nume Ekeghe and Kayode Tokede

The Group Managing Director of the United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA), Mr. Oliver Alawuba, yesterday, said the bank’s presence in Africa and other parts of the world was reflecting on its performance leading to its huge customer deposits of N18 trillion, shareholders’ fund of N2 trillion and customer base of about 45 million across Africa.

These, he stressed would enable the bank sustain its industry leadership and finance more business in Nigeria and the rest of Africa.

The UBA boss who disclosed this while speaking at a global press conference as part of its 75th anniversary celebration, applauded the Group Chairman of UBA Group, Mr. Tony Elumelu for his visionary leadership and tutelage without which, he said the bank’s success would have been impossible.

This was as he said the bank would this Friday seek its shareholders’ approval for its recapitalisation plans, assuring that the bank was poised to meet the deadline.

Also, Alawuba noted that the bank remains committed to improving and facilitating intra-Africa trade, adding that the $6 billion it pledged for that purpose would be used to finance it and as well as support from Development Finance Institutions (DFIs).

“On infrastructure gap in Africa, I can tell you from agriculture, roads, ports and telecoms, power the infrastructure gap is a lot. But that lies the opportunity we have in Africa. So, UBA has been in countries where we are present, we support the key sectors that are driving the economy of those countries.

“So, we are committed to developing Africa. We are committed to supporting the key sectors that are pushing African economies. And it is showing even in our performances and our businesses. If you look at our accounts and performance, you will see that our performance has continued to improve reflecting clearly what we are doing.

“Today, the deposit position of UBA is about N18 trillion, today our shareholders’ fund is N2 trillion, today you would see that our customer base is moving up to 45 million customers across Africa and these are growing on a daily basis.

“We don’t just support these businesses; we support all the value-chain that are tied to these businesses so that the SMEs will continue to thrive. SMEs are the future of Africa and will continue to provide support to SME businesses,” he said.

While commending the bank’s management and staff in the last 75 years, he said the future of UBA and its vision was to be the role model for African businesses.

According to him, “UBA is one bank, uniting Africa while connecting Africans to the World and the World to Africa. Our primary focus is to be the payment bank for capital flows, trade and investments between Africa and the rest of the world.

“We are committed to expanding our presence, seizing growth opportunities, and delivering value to all stakeholders. Collaboration and partnerships as exemplified by the $6 billion SME funding agreement signed with the African Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will be instrumental in achieving our strategic objectives. We are dedicated to deepening relationships with customers, employees, regulators, and other stakeholders for mutual benefit and long-term success.

“I would like to reiterate UBA’s commitment to its Customer First Philosophy, which is our primary business strategy. The customer is our employer and the sole reason why we come to work. Our three key pillars of service (People, Process and Technology) are all geared towards the delivery of excellent customer experience, which is our promise.

“As we embark on the next phase of our journey, I urge all stakeholders to continue their support and collaboration. Together, we will write the next chapter of success for United Bank for Africa Plc.”

Speaking on the recapitalisation process of the financial institution, the Executive Director, Finance and Risk Management, UBA, Ugochukwu Nwaghodoh said: “The central bank has set that every bank must have N500 billion in pure share capital and that was not necessarily related to the existing shareholders of the banks and the whole objective, according to the central bank was that we need to support a $1 trillion economy at a certain time.

“So we have looked that it’s obviously going to strengthen the banking system as expected and the banks in Nigeria will be able to do a lot more in terms of growing the economy in Nigeria.

“The central bank gave a couple of options: You could achieve this by raising additional funds; you could achieve this by mergers and acquisitions; and you can choose not to raise more funds and step down your licence to a level that your current capital can support.

“For UBA, we operate with the highest licence available, which is an international licence. We have operations, very strong backgrounds, operations across Africa and indeed, in several centers in the world.

“So we’ve chosen this route and we are looking at options we have engaged financial advisors. We indeed have set in motion the requisite approvals from the shareholders. So on Friday, hopefully, we will be receiving the approval of shareholders on certain resolutions that will enable us to execute the required capital raise.  We are committed to achieving this well ahead of the deadline.”

On its adoption of technology, which has played a role in advancing the bank’s operations across Africa, Executive Director/ Chief Operating Officer, UBA Alex Alozie noted that the bank invests in cybersecurity to ensure customers’ funds are safe.

He explained: “Serving 45 million customers means that you must have enhanced technology and at the same time have the technology that can also prevent fraud.

“What we have done across Africa is to ensure that we have technology that connects one country to another. With UBA technology you can transfer money from Ghana to Togo, from Ghana to Kenya without coming into the bank.

“What we have done with technology and in terms of fraud, is to empower our customers to know that we have that underlining technology that will prevent customers from losing funds and today UBA   is a safe haven for customers’ funds.”

On his part, the Deputy Managing Director, Muyiwa Akinyemi said: “Our commitment to exceptional customer experience as well as our financial strength and resilience over the years has been key to our success.

“Our robust performance, especially over the last couple of years, underscores our sound strategies and commitment to operational excellence. I am sure everyone in this room will agree with me that UBA remains an attractive investment opportunity as it continues to deliver exceptional value to our shareholders.

“At UBA, innovation and digital transformation are at the heart of our future growth as we remain committed to enhancing the experience of our customers across all touchpoints while solidifying our position. We are committed to offering value that enhances the experience of our customers, while solidifying our position as a forward-thinking institution.

“As you will learn from our interactions today, we look forward to another 75 years, 100 years of impact; to our people, businesses, and communities across the globe. Together, we will continue to uphold our core values of Excellence, Enterprise, and Execution, driving sustainable growth and successes.”

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