The proposed International Financial Centre starts operation in the second quarter of next year at the promising Eko Atlantic City.
Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, disclosed this at the weekend, during the 56th Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) yearly Bankers’ Dinner held in Lagos.
The infrastructure is expected to unlock Nigeria for the passive billions of dollars looking for high-yield investment opportunities around the world. And Emefiele hopes the proposed Centre will help to attract funds required to drive Nigeria’s economic growth.
“A key challenge to supporting growth in key sectors of our economy is access to a large pool of cheap investment capital. Today, over $100 trillion is held by institutional investors in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, most of which invested in low-yielding assets relative to high-yielding opportunities in Nigeria. Working to tap into this pool of funds will require the set-up of an investment framework that offers comfort and security to investors seeking to invest in critical sectors of our economy,” Emefiele told the bankers.
The CBN’s chief executive was also excited about the opportunities in the eNaira, the country’s central bank digital currency (CBDC) in facilitating a cheap and easy payment system.
He revealed that about 600,000 downloads have been recorded since the pilot phase was unveiled. He hinted at efforts to onboard millions of rural dwellers without access to smartphones.
“Efforts are ongoing to encourage faster adoption of the e-Naira by Nigerians who do not have smartphones. The support of the financial industry will be critical in the ongoing deployment of the e-Naira and efforts are ongoing to encourage continued partnership between the CBN and stakeholders in the financial industry,’’ he said.
Emefiele warned that Nigeria would necessarily diversify its economy to achieve sustainable growth as the country could not afford to continue to import “everything and anything”.
President/Chairman of the Council of CIBN, Dr. Bayo Olugbemi, said the CBDC would deepen financial inclusion and integrate millions of unbanked Nigerians into the banking system.
“Whilst the modality for the operation is being fine-tuned, I have no doubt in my mind that it is a welcome development and a step in the right direction,” he noted.
A distinct feature of the year’s edition, Olugbemi’s last dinner, was the award for unsung COVID-19 heroes in the banking industry.
The award was “designed to honour deserving individuals that stepped up beyond the call of duty in the fight against COVID-19, and who ensured business continuity despite the scourge of the pandemic”.