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Digitalisation, climate change remain critical for Africa’s economic development, Osinbajo says

By Guardian Nigeria
18 February 2022   |   4:06 am
The elements of digitalisation and climatic change remain critical focal points if Nigeria, and indeed, the African continent are to develop significantly and fully maximise its capacity in the next few years.

Osinbajo and Elumelu

Emefiele: Central banks, financial institutions must partner to address food security, job creation
The elements of digitalisation and climatic change remain critical focal points if Nigeria, and indeed, the African continent are to develop significantly and fully maximise its capacity in the next few years.

Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, who said this, noted that although digitalisation has contributed significantly to the economic fortunes of Nigeria and the African economy, there is still room for more growth especially as digital technology offers the most effective way for Africa to fast-track development.

He was speaking at the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Group Chairman’s Forum 2022, held at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, where the bank’s Group Chairman, Tony O. Elumelu, hosted him to dinner.

The UBA group Chairman’s forum is a yearly interactive and knowledge sharing session led by Elumelu. The forum brings together the group and the bank’s subsidiary board members as well as its executive management team from across Africa and globally, to further solidify the vision of the bank and generate ideas for the advancement of Africans and the African economy.

The Vice President, who commended Elumelu and the UBA management for the auspicious event, also pointed out that climate change and how it is handled has a huge role to play on the continent in the coming years.

“There are two crucial issues bound to determine Africa’s growth trajectory in the next few decades – Digitisation and how we handle Climate Change. While digital technology offers the most effective way for Africa to leapfrog African development, clean and renewable energy sources are the fastest-growing segment of energy today and will certainly be a key economic driver well into the future, and must be embraced,” Osinbajo emphasised.

Whilst pointing out that energy demand in Nigeria and across Africa is set to rise to deliver the Industrialisation, jobs and economy-wide progress the people deserve, the Vice President emphasised the need for collaboration to drive the common goal of empowerment, adding, “on this journey towards zero emissions and towards deploying digitisation to initiate mass education and tackle poverty, our continent will fulfil its potentials and deliver prosperity when public and private sector players do their part, in this particular case, via funding.”

Elumelu commended the Vice President for his various contributions towards economic development in Nigeria.

“UBA is honoured to have the VP grace this occasion. Like some of you may know, our VP authored a wonderful piece on foreign policy and after I read it, I shared it with everyone in my network, because it mirrors most of what we stand for. At UBA, our commitment to ESG and energy transition is wonderful but as Africans we believe it should be done in an equitable manner especially given the fact that Carbon emission in Africa is sub 2 per cent.”

In a similar vein, whilst welcoming the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, who was also a special guest of the UBA Group Chairman during the bank’s forum, Elumelu noted that most of the policies of the governor had given opportunities for financial institutions to thrive and contribute meaningfully to the Nigerian economy.

“Africa’s largest economy has raised successful private sector leaders and the CBN Governor through CACOVID, brought a forum for all of us to discuss together. At our interactive sessions, we discuss the development of Nigeria, talking about key areas like Healthcare, security, national economy from the perspective of economic development and growth. People who were on their own successfully have finally come together with a common goal. This was especially evident when the COVID-19 pandemic struck and the private sector swung into action under the coalition of the team that the CBN Governor put together,” Elumelu said.

Continuing, he said, “We set up isolation centres across the country and spent so much money on vaccinations, easing the processes around it. We have focused on opening up of the economy. We just put together 100billion to help support our security agencies and capacitise them.”

In his own submission, Emefiele spoke on the role that banks and other financial institutions have to play in the economy, especially in a continent as endowed and vast as Africa.

He said that if recent figures from the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) is anything to go by, then the issues of job creation and food security have to be fully addressed, adding that “Central banks and the financial systems have a critical role to play in empowering the solutions to the issues of food security and job creation on our continent.”

Emefiele also commended Elumelu for his excellent work over the years and his various contributions towards the economic development of the country in all the critical areas he has ventured into, ranging from banking, oil and gas, tourism and other concerns.