Group Chief Executive Officer, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, Mr. Ade Ayeyemi has projected that the Nigerian economy will revamp in 2021. He made this known in a chat with the media in Lagos recently.
Mr. Adeyemi who explained that such optimism is the basis on which Ecobank is out planning activities for Nigeria, however, warned that nothing should be taken for granted despite the positive outlook.
According to him, “the government and the people still need to act in a way that is supportive of those growth expectations. We think the economy will revamp in 2021 and that is the basis on which we are out planning activities for Nigeria.”
“But, if you look at the 2020-year inflation for Nigeria, it is not single-digit. The belief was that Nigeria would get to seven percent, nine percent, and 10 percent growth rate that has always been factored into the long-term development plan of Nigeria.”
He also explained that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement AfCFTA offers Nigerians the opportunity to expand the business. According to him, “because of our Pan-African presence, we have been discussing with the governments and our customers to start to take another look at their businesses and understand that the market is bigger than what it used to be before.”
“So, if your job in Aba is to manufacture bags for the Nigerian market, you now start thinking about how you can expand your manufacturing capacity to be able to export across West Africa and also other African countries, not just looking at Nigeria as a market alone.”
“And as you change your demand forecast, then you need to now improve your capacity to produce and that will mean importing new machinery, which will mean expanding your manufacturing base and being able to develop the market and hire people.”
Adeyemi also said that Ecobank will work with the likes of Afreximbank on ways to ensure that people can make payments in West Africa in a very smooth way because its platform connects 33 countries in the continent.
Speaking on Ecobank’s performance this year he said that the 2020 nine months results for the period September ending, printed $91 million year-to-date profit before tax. However, the profit before tax of $91 million was a result of a specific one-off that we took.
He also explained the plan by the Ecobank to close some branches in Nigeria.
“Yes, we closed 114 branches. We still have about 250 something branches remaining. So, having 250 branches is massive when you consider the branch network that the rest of our competitors have. That is the first thing.”
“The second is the idea of using an agency network as a means of being able to distribute banking services to people.”
“The third thing is the idea that the digital platform is now going to continue to be the preferred method of delivering banking services to people as we go forward into the future.”
“Those are the things that informed our decision and some of these branches were not profitable. Some of them were weak and that was the basis on which we made the decision to close those branches and merge their activities with some other branches that exist in agreement with our regulator, the Central Bank of Nigeria.”