At the heart of empowering a nation and developing communities is women empowerment, letting them express their opinions as individuals. Studies and research carried out by organizations such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Africa Development Bank continue to assert this by adopting gender-based strategies in a bid to eradicate poverty and improve the economy of a nation.
Empowering women by granting them access to vast opportunities and information will not only lead to personal development for women but also the development of the communities and societies they operate in.
Access Bank remains at the forefront of women empowerment by leveraging on the ‘W’ initiative as a channel. The Bank pioneered women banking in Nigeria with the establishment of the Gender Empowerment Movement (GEM) in 2006 which later evolved into the ‘W’ Initiative, officially created in 2014. Such dedication to women empowerment has led to over 35% of its customer that are women.
The ‘W’ Initiative is a robust plan to provide women with banking solutions tailored to meet their diverse career and lifestyle requirements. It is a virtual community that aims to inspire and connect women to opportunities nationally and internationally, as well as give them a rewarding banking experience. In simpler terms, the ‘W’ Initiative is the home for everything Access Bank offers women and is open to all women irrespective of who they bank with.
No doubt, the Bank has been committed to championing female empowerment, with a focus on information sharing, capacity building, and increased access to finance to grow and expand their businesses.
Specifically, the ‘W’ Academy, a program under the ‘W’ initiative focuses on capacity building sessions, In Vitro Fertilization opportunities, networking programs among others. This platform is anchored on addressing gaps in gender financing and technological skills among women while bridging business and managerial skills gap among thousands of female entrepreneurs through workshops and events.
As a young woman focused on personal development, or as a business owner looking to contribute positively to the economy or one whose primary concern is providing comfort for her family, the ‘W’ community provides women with timely updates on developments that affect their personal and family lives, careers, and businesses.
One major challenge women in Africa face is access to loans and variety of financial assistance to help expand and improve their businesses. To address this, Access Bank created the ‘W’ Power loan, a scheme designed to bridge the financing gaps for women in business and provides business support services and visibility for these businesses. Since its launch in July 2018, over 60 loans have been approved valued at over N1 billion for financing expansion of operations, acquisition of fixed/capital assets, and working capital requirement.
Speaking on the Bank’s dedication to empowering the female gender, The Group Managing Director, Access Bank Plc, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, explained that the importance of creating an environment where women thrive both personally and in business cannot be overemphasized.
Noting that the role of women in nation-building could not be under-estimated. Wigwe, observed that women formed a strategic focus for the Bank. “From the very beginning, at the heart of our strategy is support for women, helping them and connecting them to global opportunities. Our efforts have not gone unnoticed as evidenced by our numerous awards and recognition in the area of female empowerment,” he said.
With the numerous cultural and financial barriers women face, Access Bank continues to create platforms and solutions where women can fully harness their potential. Having trained over 75,000 women, in 81 locations across 19 states in Nigeria in finance, education, SMEs, event planning and many others, this financial institution continues to reinforce its dedication to enabling women thrive in their various fields.
The Bank is a proud recipient of the National Women in Finance Magazine Outstanding Banking Initiative Awards for 2015, the Global Banking Alliance (GBA) Women’s Market Champion Award for the same year, Global Banking Alliance Highest Engagement Award in 2017, CBN Excellence in Women Economic Empowerment Award in 2017 and 2019, Women in Marketing and Communications Female Friendly Bank of the Year Award in 2018, National Council for Women Society Nigeria Dedication to Women Entrepreneurship Award for 2018, among others.
Subsidizing The Naira Blocks Nigeria’s Economic Takeoff
By Kingsley Moghalu
The naira should be floated to find its exchange rate value on the market if Nigeria’s economy is to become productive, instead of relying on oil revenues, a dependency that has plunged our country and our citizens deeper and deeper into fiscal bankruptcy and individual poverty. Ending the elusive quest for a “strong” currency when the economic fundamentals do not support it will be painful in the short run (we have already undergone several years of devaluations forced by these fundamentals, so what’s new?) but will be beneficial in the longer term.
The notion of an artificially strong currency remains attractive for three fundamental reasons:
1. We are fundamentally an import economy, and imports are priced in dollars and other “reserve” currencies in international trade.
2. There is a lack of economic knowledge both in policy-making governance circles and in the wider population.
3. Based on the two factors earlier cited, politicians want to remain “popular” and lack the political will to do what is required to set the economy on a truly productive path. Some “technocrats”, for self-serving reasons, sing and clap along instead of providing the necessary advice and guidance.
In taking this approach, as well as others such as subsidies on consumption instead of on production, structural poverty has been entrenched in Nigeria and the Nigerian economy has remained uncompetitive in a global context, for far too long.
To measure the naira only relative to the dollar and other foreign currencies is to miss a fine point – that it matters as well to differentiate what the naira equivalent of one dollar can buy in Nigeria from what one dollar can buy in America-what economists call “purchasing power parity” – what your currency can purchase for you in your national market as a way to measure GDP and GDP per capita. This approach to measuring economies arose because sometimes currencies are manipulated, and so measuring against such currencies may not yield a fully accurate picture. As someone so brilliantly put it on a WHatsapp post I read, “in the US, a dollar may not buy you more than a bottle of water, while N500 will buy you a pack of 12 of the same bottles of water in Nigeria!”
Because we are an import economy, we want to maintain an artificially strong naira/dollar exchange rate, to subsidize the import habit of our elite, or our ability to pay school fees of our wards abroad – understandable, given the decline of education in Nigeria, but not the solution to a problem that needs to be fixed.
We produce and export nothing that is value-added. Over 90% of our forex comes from oil. When an economy lacks “complexity” (value-added manufacturing as a ratio of GDP) but depends on exports of natural commodities or minerals, the exchange rate value of its currency is determined almost exclusively by the level of its foreign reserves, which accrues mainly from income from such commodity or resource exports. These reserves determine how many months of imports such a country can pay for.
So when oil prices are high for a long period, the reserves swell, and the (say) naira value relative to foreign currencies rises. When the oil price crashes, our reserves are depleted. When reserve levels indicate that a country’s ability to pay for up to six imports is threatened, market forces weaken the strength of the currency (naira in this instance). The value of the currency crashes, because that value is not underpinned by diversified exports that earn revenues as is the case with mature economies. If oil were $100 per barrel for a long period, for example, and our reserves rose to $80 billion, the naira value relative to the dollar will go up. But we have little control over the vagaries of the oil price.
Commodity dependence therefore exposes a country to currency instability except the country builds up huge reserves (eg Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries which long ago invested heavily in oil refining AND have huge sovereign wealth funds (we arrived at the sovereign wealth party about 40 years late!) in addition to exporting crude. It is OBVIOUS in such cases that there is backing for that legal tender in terms that are relevant internationally. The naira is not so fortunate because our economy is “naked” and globally uncompetitive.
What all this means is that the Central Bank of Nigeria’s efforts to “defend” the naira are like Sisyphus rolling the proverbial huge boulder up the hill, only for it to surely come rolling back down, economically speaking. It weakens the very value of the naira it is defending because the dollar supplies come from the external reserves, but is politically “expedient” because it creates an impression of patriotic nationalism. By the end of the first quarter of 2020, for example, the Bank is reported to have spent approximately $4 billion on naira Defence in the forex market by supplying the market with dollars.
But it’s all just populism. Foreign investors have exited, and forex is not coming in as investments aren’t at a level that can create confidence.
So the only way to reposition our economy is to shift it from an import-oriented one to one that is export-oriented. For as long as CBN continues to subsidize the value of the naira this will not happen, because they are creating incentives for an import orientation.
Forex “ban” makes the matter worse. Local productivity often is not enough to meet the gap in demand for the previously imported products. Smuggling booms. Meanwhile, in a frontier economy, “cabals” have reportedly had access to the naira at CBN rates, so they obtain huge amounts of subsidized dollars, and turn around to sell the dollars at the street market rates with huge profits. Arbitrage reigns. The black market booms.
But if CBN devalues the naira decisively rather than tentatively, or allows it find its value in the market, this will create an incentive to manufacture locally and EXPORT in order to earn forex. Because imports become more expensive.
But other policies must accompany this approach. The absence of those policies is why series of devaluations have not solved the problems, but only import inflation. This is death by a thousand cuts.
The necessary accompanying policy thrust is trade policy. Instead of forex bans, anyone should be able to import (yes, they will need forex to do so)but slap high tariffs (revenues for the government!) on imports deemed luxury items. Policy support should be provided to enable local production of such goods to be cheaper than foreign imports. That way, rich people can buy expensive imported goods, poorer people can buy cheaper “local-made”. More exports, more forex, and eventually the value of the naira stabilizes. The “cheap” exchange rate of the naira (from the perspective of foreign trade partners) will lead to greater orders of Nigerian manufactures, which = more forex earnings. Foreign investors seeking profit will also flood the country that is seen as a large and profitable market with dollars because the market is “open” and trade transparent. This will also help stabilize the naira.
But this is difficult when Nigeria is being mortgaged to a country like China. If our government treats China as a financial lifeline, can we slap the appropriate tariffs on imports from China which are so cheaply produced that it makes production in Nigeria uncompetitive? This is part of a broader problem of the absence of a worldview that includes a strategy to rise in the world, including economically.
Ideally, citizens should be well prepared, communicated to and educated about these kinds of necessary reforms. And we know that vested interests will often seek to short-circuit such reforms to still game the system. It’s like highway robbery on an unsafe road. You may be OK in the early part of the journey, but could (God forbid) run into robbers in the last mile. The role of vested-interest rent-seeking in Nigeria’s economy has been a dominant one for far too long. The phenomenon is not unique to Nigeria, but that’s no excuse. Our concern is about our country and our people and creating an enabling environment for real development. Getting right the balance betweeen the role of the state and that of markets is one of the most important factors in development. I hope that, as President Muhammadu Buhari pursues the Vision 2050, we can get these fundamentals right.
CBN Freezes Accounts Of Baba Ijebu, 37 Other Companies Over Forex Infractions
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has ordered banks to block bank accounts of 38 companies over FOREX infractions.
Prominent among the companies affected is Premier Lotto owned by Adebutu Kessington, a Nigerian businessman popularly known as “Baba Ijebu.”
Some of the offences being alleged by CBN include; forex infractions, moving forex abroad without the required authorisation and “economic sabotage.”
The accounts of these companies have been blocked, however, money can be deposited into the accounts.
Some of the affected companies are Premier Lotto Limited, 3D Scanners Bureau De Change Limited, Blue Wall Nigeria Limited, JNFX International Limited, Northline Limited, V Gaming Limited, R&S Lotto Limited, TM Gaming Networks Limited, Escale Oil and Gas Limited, Barkoli Trading Company Limited, and Godoni Enterprises Limited.
Nigerian multipurpose and trusty crypto-wallet
Usually, users think that crypto-coins are totally secure and easy by design. But nowadays we literally have a huge boom of a wallet software, and crypto exchanges. The very idea of the blockchain economy seems like a solid theory. So we’ve investigated and compared the best service of cryptocurrency exchange.
CoinBox is considered as the ultimate and universal converting solution. It has the highest level of internal security. Also, this wallet works with the most popular currencies, such as Bitcoin, Ripple, Ethereum, Litecoin, and other altcoins. The total number of represented cryptofranchises is more than 1,500. The wallet helps you to convert and store coins. There is no such thing as the limits of this wallet.
First of all, you need a valid account in the CoinBox system.
How to buy a cryptocoin in this wallet
- Check the “wallet” part. You have to find the needed currency.
2. Push the “Buy” button. Type the amount and click “Pay”.
How to sale your bitcoin
Steps 1-2 are the same. You need to mark the BTC currency and type the amount. Then you ought to choose the way of selling: through the bank requisites or via the PayPal wallet. Then you confirm the deal.
This wallet has a very convenient price monitor. Open the “Prices”, and you will see the actual exchange rates. There is also the latest and related news here.
The “View more assets” field contains not only the exchange rate of all presented coins but the selector of them as well. Click on the cryptocurrency, and you will see a lot of useful information. The brief information block described the coin along with the interactive live chart of changes. Here you can monitor all the dynamics in prices day by day. The client can adjust the time period of monitoring.
The CoinBox has typical referral bonuses. To obtain it, you shall share the invite code from the “Invite” section. Your friends will have valuable bonuses too.
CoinBox has a special affiliate program. You can have up to 80% commission via your friends’ transactions. All you need for this is the referral code. This code will be sent to friends by email or other types of communication. The term of validation of the code is unlimited.
The “Settings” menu allows you to adjust your wallet. Here we have the security level, the choice of the national currency, the switcher of notifications, and tech support.
The user changes his authentication features in the “Security” menu. The protection includes a simple password, fingerprint detector and face unlock feature. The password is also protected by a standard pin code. The fingerprint and face scan will be unlocked only after the password change.
The email confirmation of your exchange actions is enabled in the same section. Your registration email will have a unique code that you need to type on the site. Turning this feature off requires the same actions.
The “Dynamic Address” feature provides you the wallet identification changing, It works only for bitcoin, not even for its forks. But that’s not a flaw of the CoinBox: the specification of the altcoin simply does not allow this feature.
The choice of national currencies is also rich, it makes the CoinBox even more useful. Also, you can turn on the notifications here.
The CoinBox is famous for its quick and reliable tech support. The staff works permanently and resolves almost all problems quickly. Just describe your trouble. The support crew works worldwide, not only for West Africa.
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