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Data collection, public-private synergy top recommendations for Nigeria economic recovery

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Data collection and management, public-private synergy, skills acquisition and a review of policies topped the list of recommendations by experts for the restart of the Nigerian economy ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic at the first edition of The Guardian-Fintech 1000+ Webinar Series on Wednesday.

The webinar held via Zoom streaming platform had stakeholders from different sectors of the economy in attendance with the CEO of InfoGraphics Nigeria Chineye Mba-Uzoukwu moderating a discussion session of panellists that included Rashidat Adebisi, the chief client officer at AXA Mansard Insurance Plc, Abubakar Suleiman, CEO/MD of Sterling Bank, Onajite Regha, the group head at PayAttitude and Christabel Onyejekwe, the executive director of business development at NBSS.

Speaking at the session, Sterling Bank CEO Suleiman said the global pandemic did not introduce new challenges to any sector of the Nigerian economy rather it exposed the existing lapses in the system.

“No new challenge under for the banking sector. We had challenges in the health sector, the oil sector before. The challenges have become clearer and need to be urgently addressed. It is the same challenge for banks and fintech” Suleiman said.

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He explained that the new norm of social distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus has been the breaking point for many businesses that deal with close human relations like tourism, schools and oil and gas sector.

Suleiman believed that Nigeria needed a clear post-COVID-19 policy approach for “longterm intervention through the market system” that will involve risk-sharing between the private and the public sector to finance the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

“We need clarity is what we are doing. We need clarity in government policy. There is a need for regulatory clarity too,” Suleiman said.

“What the private sector is doing is often seen as profitless for government and perceived for personal gain. Our vision is set apart until we see the same future for the country.”

Echoing the need for synergy, Adebisi stated that “collaboration will prevent exposing one industry to effects of the COVID-19 impact and create a form of back up with the help of others.”

She said it was time that banks and fintech begin to provide people with opportunities through grants, skill acquisition and active insurance security for them.

Adebisi stated that the impact of the pandemic affected Nigerians due to the lack of data on the government’s part to effectively plan for citizens.

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Onyejekwe, however, believed the economic impacts of COVID-19 o Nigerians will stay for long if the government does not intensify efforts to collapse all data collection into one platform.

“Data has to be put in place for intervention to touch the last man on the street through the use of data and mechanism. This is where the government failed,” Onajite said.

“We must begin to channel our energy into data collection so that the needs of people can be directly met. All data collection platforms – NIMC, BVN should be collapsed into one.”

She expressed hopes in the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) recently approved by President Muhammadu Buhari to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 if implemented and sustained by the government.

In her contribution, PayAttitude’s Regha noted that Nigeria requires a “bigger framework for education, health, aviation and the financial industry” that outlines key roles to be played by the public and private sector.

“Public-private partnership is needed to shape a vision. The right partnership will help to distribute the value chain to meet up to respond as a country,” Onajite said.


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