By Moses Ebosele –
To successfully drive intra-Africa trade, the outgoing Group Managing Director of United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, Mr Philips Oduoza has called for increased collaboration among African Central Banks.
Oduoza who delivered the fourth valedictory lecture of Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) recently listed lack of the required infrastructure and policies as the major challenges to intra-Africa trade.
Speaking on the topic “The Emergence of a Nigerian Pan-African Bank,” Oduoza used the opportunity to share his experience and challenges in helping build one of Africa’s largest banking groups.
A statement issued by the Bank explained that the GMD spoke extensively on UBA’s expansion into Africa, the rational for the expansion and the strategies adopted to derive maximum value and reduce the risks of UBA’s foray into different African countries.
He said: “The volume of formal intra-African trade is relatively low and estimated between 10 per cent and 12 per cent of Africa’s total trade. Comparable figures are 40 per cent in North America and about 60per cent in Western Europe”
He listed lack of the required infrastructure and policies as the major challenges to intra-Africa trade while noting that the adoption of policies like tax holidays, waivers, and market interventions to promote investments in sectors outside commodities will help diversify African economies and drive intra-African trade.
The outgoing GMD said: “I strongly feel African Central Banks have a greater role to play by collaborating to promote the development of cross border trade platforms in order to encourage the informal sector to join the formal banking system. When this is done, the opportunity will be readily captured by Pan-African banks.”
He added:“Intra-African trade growth will be further supported by the introduction of a visa-free travel policy across the continent by the African Union as well as the development of intra-regional transport infrastructure.”
Oduoza harped on the need for improved financial inclusion on the continent, noting that research has shown that only 34per cent of African adults have a bank account as at 2014. He suggested the adoption of mobile money services to help drive financial inclusion on the continent.