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Nihilent Moves to Tackle IT challenges in Banks

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The challenges of Information Technology standards and frameworks in the banking industry resonated at the seminar organized by Nihilent Nigeria, in Lagos, at the weekend.

The company- a global consulting and solutions integration had drawn industry stakeholders to brainstorming session on the issue that forms part of the requirements for banking operations.

According to the company, the event was to aid compliance to the requirements of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which recently urged banks to adopt 17 IT standards/frameworks across different technology areas.

The event however, witnessed participation from most of the leading banks in Nigeria as well as non-bank financial institutions, payments, insurance and IT companies, and conglomerates.

The organisers noted that CBN’s mandate for all the Nigerian banks raised an important issue of optimal sequence of implementing the processes under each standard.

Oti Ikomi, chairman of the company who spoke about Nihilent’s operations and service offerings, pointed out that “banks and financial institutions are now looking for solutions that not only address regulatory compliance, but also improve operational efficiency, install a robust regulatory information management system, and follow effective risk management practices.”

“The seminar focused on providing a brief on mandatory frameworks, commonalities and differences, and the adoption of an integrated approach to optimise efforts, reduce cost and meet CBN timelines,” he added.

S.O. Agboola, assistant director, Banking and Payment System, CBN commended the company for organising the event to educate the industry on such critical issue.

But Ashok Sontakke, vice-president, Quality and Processes of the company,  who also noted the potential challenges faced by the banks, said that adopting the standards would involve massive change in management, processes and technology.

According to him, many of the prescribed standards have commonality and overlapping requirements.

“So it is essential to identify the same at the beginning of this improvement journey and build optimised quality management system.

“This though, can result in significant effort, but cost saving and also help in meeting CBN’s timeline,” he added.


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SEC Insists on Full Disclosures despite Covid-19

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Securities and Exchange Commission, (SEC) has reiterated that all public companies must continue to make appropriate disclosures regardless of the movement restrictions in Abuja and Lagos.

SEC Insists on Full Disclosures despite Covid-19

According to the SEC, in light of the global pandemic of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and in furtherance to the Commission’s circular of March 24, the Commission provided additional guidance to the Capital Market.

It said, “All public companies are required to continue to make material disclosures to investors on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on their business operations.”

“They should also continue to disclose the trend and outlook for the company, and updates on implementation of business continuity plans. Public companies are to publish these disclosures on their websites and on other relevant media” it further stated.

SEC further stated that “Public companies who plan to conduct AGMs are required to ensure that the conduct of the meetings comply with the provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, the Investments and Securities Act, the SEC Rules and Regulations, relevant government and health circulars and guidelines issued in this regard.”

SEC said debt issuers are also expected to continue to engage Trustees to ensure that relevant disclosures are provided. Trustees are required to provide updates to the Commission accordingly.

The Commission enjoined all CMOs to continue to monitor the real and potential risks COVID-19 may have on their business operations and the discharge of services to investors and clients, stating that for further guidance, the Commission may be contacted through the dedicated email addresses for filing CMOs returns.


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AfDB Celebrates Milestone with First Social Bond Listing on London Stock Exchange

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The African Development Bank’s “Fight Covid-19” social bond, the largest social bond to date to be issued in the capital markets, listed on London Stock Exchange on Friday 3 April 2020, and is now available through its Sustainable Bond Market.

The listing marks an important milestone as the Bank launches its first bond on London Stock Exchange.

The over-subscribed transaction, which attracted $4.6 billion of interest in the book and raised an exceptional $3 billion, was launched to alleviate the impact of Covid-19 on Africa’s economies and livelihoods.

The three-year maturity bond garnered interest from central banks and official institutions, bank treasuries and asset managers including Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) investors.

Several high-quality ESG investors actively supported this remarkable transaction, including Affirmative Investment Management (UK), Breckinridge, Columbia Threadneedle (USA), the Government Pension Investment Fund, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Pension Boards – United Church of Christ, PineBridge Investments, Praxis Impact Bond Fund, TIAA/Nuveen and the United Nations Development Program.

“The international community must work together to successfully tackle the coronavirus pandemic. The UK, along with partners like the African Development Bank and London Stock Exchange Group, is supporting the most vulnerable countries to invest in their own health systems and avoid economic hardship,” International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said about the listing.

“While we invest in areas like vaccine research to help end the pandemic sooner, this private investment through the AfDB, and our support for emergency lending through the IMF, will also help limit its impact on the global economy,” Trevelyan further noted.

The London Stock Exchange, at the heart of London’s vibrant financial hub, is championing forward-looking initiatives aimed at deepening and diversifying the market. Its dedicated Sustainable Bond Market (SBM) draws innovative issuers and improves access, flexibility and transparency for investors.

Eligible social or sustainability bonds with use of proceeds aligned to mitigating the impact of Covid-19 will be admitted on the exchange with admission fees waived for an initial period of three-months, London Stock Exchange has announced.

Such social and sustainability bonds fund essential services such as healthcare, water and sanitation, supporting employment, or with a link to the relevant UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Nikhil Rathi, CEO, London Stock Exchange plc and Group Director of International Development, said: “We welcome the first bond from African Development Bank to list on our market and support them in their vital efforts to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 across Africa. This bond highlights the important role that social and sustainability bonds can play in directing funding to those countries, sectors and people across the world heavily impacted by this pandemic.”

The Bank established its Social Bond framework in 2017 and raised the equivalent of $5 billion through issuances denominated in US dollars, Euro and Norwegian krone.

The President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, said: “We are proud to announce that our first listing on London Stock Exchange is a social bond. This is only the beginning of a stronger partnership between the African Development Bank and London Stock Exchange. We will mobilize all we can on the capital market to fight the coronavirus in Africa.”

The Bank’s previous activity in the social bond market has seen financing to build hospital capacity, boost access to health and healthcare services, strengthen health systems, provide improved access to water and sanitation, and create jobs across the continent.

Commenting on the listing, Martin Scheck, CEO of The International Capital Market Association or ICMA, said: “We believe Social and Sustainability Bonds can provide an immediately actionable channel for the market to finance projects that directly contribute to alleviating the social and economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis.”

Swazi Tshabalala, Acting Senior Vice President, African Development Bank Group, said: “The African Development Bank is at the forefront of helping African countries fight this pandemic with innovative financing solutions. We welcome this partnership with London Stock Exchange which will help us expand the horizon of investors that are interested and committed to Africa’s sustainable development.”

Hassatou N’Sele, Treasurer, African Development Bank Group, said: “We appreciate the partnership with London Stock Exchange as we strive together to move the African continent forward. Today more than ever, Africa and the world need to stand as one to ride out the Covid-19 crisis.”


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NAICOM Urges Insurance Firms to Maintain Sanctity of Policy Contracts During Restrictions

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The National Insurance Commission, NAICOM, has directed insurance firms in the country to maintain sanctity of insurance contracts entered into with clients.

In a circular titled RE:  EFFECT OF COVID-19 ON INSURANCE OPERATIONS:  referenced NAICOM/DPR/CIR/27/2020 and  NAICOM/DPR/CIR/28/2020  dated  24  and  27 March 2020 respectively, the regulator granted firms some measure of leeway as part of business continuity measures and to, as much as possible, ensure availability of insurance services and protections of insurance policy holders during the COVID-19 movement restriction.

The NAICOM in the circular granted that Where Approval-In-Principle for the preceding insurance period had been granted, all renewals or extensions of the foreign reinsurance proportions that become due during COVID-19 movement restriction are permitted for renewal on existing basis.

It also said that where  Approval-In-Principle  for  the  foreign  proportion  of  a  new  insurance placement is required during the COVID-19 movement restriction, it shall be treated on the basis of “Use and File” subject to prior exhaustion of in-country capacity, adding that for the avoidance of doubt, after utilizing available local capacity, the lead insurer is permitted  to  reinsure  the  excess  of  the  risk  offshore  and  submit  relevant documentations to the Commission thereafter.

Also granted is that all Post Placement Reports, Reinsurance Treaties and other related special risk foreign reinsurance documentations due for submission during the pendency of theCOVID-19 restrictions are to be submitted when movement restrictions are lifted.

The regulator in the document signed by Pius T. Agboola, Director, Policy and Regulation, also noted that all insurance/reinsurance placements shall be done in accordance with other relevant extant insurance laws, regulations and guidelines while all submissions to the Commission including hard-copies sequel to the above forbearance shall be donenot later seven (7) days from the end of COVID-19 Movement Restrictions.

It advised firms to be diligent, circumspect and supportive of Government in its efforts to tame the COVID-19 Pandemic.


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