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Experts Brainstorm at AITEC Africa Conference

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AITEC Africa, the leading organiser of ICT events across Africa, held the 2010 AITEC Banking & Mobile Money West Africa Conference at Eko Hotel’s new world-class conference centre over 11-12 May.
This year’s conference was tagged “Thought leadership and innovation to survive and thrive in a new banking era”.
Sean Moroney, chairman of Aitec Africa in his welcome address explained that “we live in a challenging world, particularly in the banking industry and it is vital for every manager and professional to have access to latest thinking on strategies, technologies and systems on the world market.”
Speaking on Pragmatic Ways to Achieve Financial Inclusion in Nigeria and West Africa, Macauley Atasie, CEO Nextzon Business Services said Financial Inclusion ensures access to financial services and timely and adequate credit where needed by vulnerable groups such as weaker sections and low income groups at an affordable cost.”
He added that “Financial Exclusion is the lack of access to basic formal financial products and services and credit leading to approaching informal/ exploitative markets.”
He noted that the financially excluded are small vendors, farmers, SMEs, artisans, semi/unskilled workers, unemployed, the poor and uneducated.
“In Nigeria, the structure for MFBs is still evolving, but it is clear that so far, we have not cracked it,” identifying the challenges of MFBs as efficient delivery channels, right products, industry standards and efficiency.
Atasie called for correspondent banking, mobile banking, absence of frills accounts, products with simplified documentation and shared offices back-office infrastructure.
“The current delivery channels of most financial institutions in Nigeria and other West African countries are ineffective at reaching the financially excluded, channels are too far away from the poor and are not modeled to suit their cultural and psychological make up,” he noted.
He said more recent financial inclusion efforts around the world are looking to combine the skills of traditional financial institution players with complementary, non-traditional distribution channels to reach low-income families.
Atasie called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other stakeholders to assist ISPs in accessing international funds for promoting financial inclusion while developing local funds
Hany Fekry, head of Sales & marketing, Mediterranean Smart Cards Company, Egypt while speaking on Smart Cards Challenges & Smart ways to address them, said third party processors were established to provide the experience and know-how to banks and financial institutions at competitive costs.
He said senior managers and decision makers need to focus on positioning themselves among their fierce competitors, and let their technical functions be handled by the experts.
“Outsourcing is rapidly becoming an accepted management tool for redefining and re-energizing the corporation. It challenges today’s executives to rethink the traditional, vertically integrated firm in favor of a more flexible organization structured around core competencies and long-term, external relationships.”
Zain Khan CMC, CEO, Alliances Consulting, Canada, in his presentation on Critical Success Factors in Maximizing Consumer Participation and Acceptance of the Mobile Banking Paradigm Shift said the consumer is imperative as a key strategic variable in the success of mobile banking.
Khan said this explains the need for maintaining a balance between innovation and consumer interests, critical consumer considerations in the supply chain of mobile banking, provide innovative ways to proactively educate consumers and maximize the overall value to consumers in the deployment of mobile banking.
The bank switch panel discussion, was moderated by Foluso Phillips, CEO, Phillips Consulting on the topic, Nigeria’s Banking Switch Landscape: Building a Tower or Babel?
Discussants at the panel were Mitchel Elegbe, managing director, Interswitch, Francis Ebuehi, managing director of Chams Switch, Ike Nnamani, managing director, Medallion Communications and Barry Ryan, director, Kenswitch, Kenya.
Francis Ebuehi, managing director, Chams Switch said stakeholders must be involved in the policy and procedures of the National Central Switch. He said there must be strict adherence to professionalism built on the concept of separation of roles for a successful switch.
Ike Nnamani, managing director, Medallion Communications said seamless interoperatability poses a challenge to epayment while calling for a proactive, knowledgeable regulation with right guidelines.
Mitchel Elegbe, managing director, Interswitch said problems with SAT 3 caused problems with the use of cards. He said banks will bypass the NCS, if not properly structured.
The two day event had a line up of 40 speakers, moderators, workshop leaders and panelists, 20 of whom are international experts, to share their knowledge and insights with local bank professionals in a stimulating and empowering conference environment.
The event also included a world class expo, showcasing leading local and international suppliers of systems and solutions for the financial services sector.

 


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AfDB Appoints Dr Babatunde Samson Omotosho as Director of Statistics Department

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African Development Bank has appointed Dr Babatunde Samson Omotosho, an economist and statistician, as Director of the Statistics Department, effective June 16, 2024.

Dr Babatunde Samson Omotosho

Dr Omotosho, a Nigerian national, has more than 21 years experience in developing data strategies to align with the strategic objectives of organisations. He also brings expertise in data compilation, data analytics, macroeconomic research, and policy analysis.

Omotosho previously served as Director of Research and Statistics at the West African Monetary Agency (WAMA) in Sierra Leone, where he was seconded from the Central Bank of Nigeria. At WAMA, he provided advice on monetary and economic integration within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Prior to that he held various positions within the Statistics and Research Departments of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

As an Assistant Director in the Statistics Department, he led the data analytics team and managed the Central Bank’s strategic initiatives on big data and data analytics. He oversaw projects aimed at enhancing data analytics capabilities for policymaking, automating surveys and statistical systems, improving data sharing infrastructure and developing social media listening tools. His leadership fostered a culture of data analytics within the Central Bank, driving innovation and efficiency in operational and policy processes.

Dr Omotosho holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Glasgow, United Kingdom (2021); a master’s degree in Applied Statistics and Datamining from the University of St Andrews, United Kingdom (2011); a master’s degree in Economics from the University of Benin, Nigeria (2008); and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Ilorin, Nigeria (2000).

He has contributed extensively to academic literature, with publications in reputable journals, including the Journal of Economic Dynamics & Control, Journal of International Money & Finance, Macroeconomic & Finance in Emerging Market Economies, and the Central Bank of Nigeria Journal of Applied Statistics. His research covers big data, econometrics, monetary and fiscal policy interactions, business cycle drivers, and the macroeconomic implications of resource shocks for small open, emerging economies.

Omotosho is a member of the Nigerian Statistical Association, the International Association for Official Statistics, and the Royal Statistical Society.

Commenting on his appointment, he said, “I am grateful to President Adesina for this appointment, and I am excited about the opportunity to contribute to the continued success and growth of the African Development Bank Group, an institution that plays such a pivotal role in the economic and social development of our beloved continent, Africa. I am fully committed to fulfilling the responsibilities of the position while collaborating effectively with the Bank’s senior leadership team, colleagues, and other strategic partners.”

Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group, commented: “I am pleased to appoint Dr Babatunde Samson Omotosho, a respected statistician, as Director of the Statistics Department. Dr Omotosho brings to this role an impressive track record in statistics, economics, and data analytics. He will support the Bank in building a robust data ecosystem to achieve our strategic objectives and sustain our long-term development goals.”


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ATII Awards Scholarship to Students

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A knowledge transfer and technology innovation hub, African Technology and Innovation Institutes (ATII) has awarded scholarships to ten pupils from Bridge International Academy, Lagos.

Through its Junior Scholars Program in partnership with Lumina Educational and Empowerment Foundation (Lumina), the scholarship will meet the educational needs of the benefitting pupils through their primary education, which is extendable to their university education.

The Junior Scholars Program is an offshoot of  ATII’s  Innovation, Leaders, Fellowship and Scholars Program that aims to empower and cater to the welfare of students aged 3-12 years from underprivileged and low-income communities by partnering with other organisations to provide scholarships for these rough diamonds.

In addition to the scholarship, ATII also provides STEM-based back-to-school kits and other Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) materials to spark their desire for education and to contribute to their communities in STEM-related fields.

In her congratulatory message, the Founder of ATII,  Prof. Rose-Margaret Ekeng-Itua represented by Mr Sunday Awolowo, ATII’s Programs Manager, praised the students for their “outstanding academic excellence” and their “resolve to continue to improve in their academic pursuits, especially in the STEM fields.”

“We hope that the scholarships will continue to encourage you to do great work to pursue STEM. We hope one day in the future you all will be inspired to be an Engineer, a technologist, a mathematician or scientist,” Prof. Ekeng-Itua said.

The ATII Junior Scholars Program is designed to encourage and support students who are interested in pursuing careers in these fields.

Mrs Ezinne Tochie-Asogwa, Manager of Academics at Bridge International Academy, expressed her appreciation to ATII for the generous gesture.

“On behalf of the management and staff of Bridge International Academy, we appreciate the kind gesture of ATII.

ATII is passionate about the next generation of leaders and individuals who will change the world, pursuing its mission to promote African and Indigenous Technologies, while supporting human capital development in alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The ATII scholarships will provide financial assistance to the students as they continue their education in STEM fields. The program will also provide mentorship and support from ATII professionals.

 


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CBN, FintechNGR Chart the Way Forward to Enhance Nigeria’s Fintech Ecosystem

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In light of recent developments aimed at strengthening Nigeria’s fintech sector, Ade Bajomo, President of FintechNGR, led a team from the Association’s Governing Council in an engagement with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to chart the way forward.

Receiving the team at the CBN headquarters in Abuja, Philip Ikeazor, Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability, commended FintechNGR’s active advocacy efforts that have significantly improved the fintech ecosystem.

The Central Bank emphasized the need for the Association to work closely with stakeholders to operate within regulatory provisions, facilitate compliance, and establish robust risk management frameworks and governance structures.

Mr. Ikeazor stated, “The Central Bank understands the critical roles of fintechs in driving financial inclusion to the last mile. Our efforts are geared towards helping fintechs become more attractive to investors and achieve greater success.”

During the meeting, Ade Bajomo noted that while stakeholders strive to comply with regulatory requirements, they sometimes face challenges beyond their control.

“The common understanding within our ecosystem is that compliance makes the environment safer for all to innovate, scale, and collaborate. FintechNGR will ensure the co-creation of a support structure with the CBN to enhance compliance.”

Some of the initiatives the regulators plan to pursue with the ecosystem include making the 2024 Nigeria Fintech Week more impactful, enriching the activities of the Regulators Forum, organizing fintech learning series for various stakeholders, and exploring self-regulation status for FintechNGR to foster closer relationships with regulators.

FintechNGR remains committed to working with all regulators to better position the ecosystem to be more inclusive and impactful.

 


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