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External reserves rise to $43 billion

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Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) governor Godwin Emefiele. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIP OJISUA


CBN plans N5b national microfinance bank in 2019
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), at the weekend, said Nigeria’s external reserves have recovered significantly from $23 billion in October 2016 to over $43 billion as of December 3, 2018.
 
Besides, the apex bank unveiled plans to float a national microfinance bank in January 2019, with a N5billion take off capital, as part of efforts to deepen financial inclusion and enabling access to finance for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in rural communities.Governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele, made the disclosure at the opening ceremony of the 10th yearly Bankers’ Committee Retreat organised in collaboration with the apex bank in Lagos. 
 
According to him, with the discovery of shale oil, along with policy measures being put in place by advanced countries such as the United States and China, towards reducing car emissions and supporting alternative sources of energy like battery powered cars, it has become imperative to build up buffers that will insulate Nigeria’s economy from volatility in the crude oil market.
 
This, he said, can only be achieved if we develop and implement measures that improve productivity of companies operating in Nigeria; reduce dependence on imported goods that can be produced in Nigeria; and increase exports of non-oil goods and services. While these measures may take time to yield fruit, it remains the best course of action to take, knowing that it will act as catalyst for sustainable growth and job creation in Nigeria.
 
Emefiele, who said Nigeria has no choice than to begin to diversify her revenue base for survival, noted that to address the challenges militating against the achievements of the objectives of the Agri-Business Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS)  initiative, the apex bank is considering a proposal of a national microfinance bank that will leverage on the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST), which has presence in the 774 local governments across the country. 
 
According to him, the proposed national microfinance bank will be a standalone microfinance bank with a capital base of N5billion, which will be funded through the AGSMEIS fund while NIPOST will provide the properties on ground. He said the bank will be expected to engage in strategic partnership with NIPOST with a view to leverage on NIPOST’s widespread locations, while the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) owned by CBN will be expected to bring to bear its experience in financing low-income entrepreneurs and derisking the credit originated by the national microfinance bank by providing guarantees in line with its mandate. 
 
He added that the Bankers’ Committee and NIPOST will have representations on the board of the national microfinance bank.“We have called on NIPOST and they have agreed to join us. They will provide their facilities in all the 774 local governments and this will be their way of contribution as equity into the establishment of the national microfinance bank. 
 
“We will provide infrastructure and this microfinance bank’s branches will be available in the 774 local government across the Federation. You can imagine the level of financial inclusion and deepening of financial penetration by at least 774 branches of the microfinance banks in Nigeria. It will help to complement banks’ efforts and those of the Bankers’ Committee. “We believe very strongly that using the infrastructure to develop the microfinance bank will create more jobs and also help to improve and grow the economy to achieve the development we crave for,” Emefiele added.   


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