The Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan has reiterated that the Pan African bank remains the payment gateway for Africa.
Akinwuntan who was speaking on the topic “Optimizing sustainable trade, investment and regional economic integration through effective partnerships between ECOWAS institutions and regional institutions and the organised private sector” at a webinar organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) to commemorate the 46th anniversary of ECOWAS on Monday, stated that the bank’s state of the art digital payment and collection platform is promoting trade and commerce across the African continent.
According to him, Ecobank is present in all ECOWAS member states, stressing that the bank will continue to leverage its knowledge, footprint, and payment channels to promote trade and economic activities through its unique and large pan-African network that positions it to support businesses at all levels.
He noted that “naturally for us as a Pan African bank, we are set up to support the economic integration and development of Africa. We have the commitment, capacity and network to support the realization of that objective. We have a platform that leverages technology which enables businesses within ECOWAS to operate as one market.
In terms of payment and collection, we have just one banking platform that serves an entire industry. If you are an individual and you open an account and get our Mobile app, you have access to the 33 countries where we operate, and you can transact across these countries. It is a payment switch that ensures payment without going through SWIFT but ensures instant value across the network. For businesses, we have Omni platform, which is a web-based payment platform that enables you to first see your position across the 33 countries and make instant payment.”
Mr. Akinwuntan added that Ecobank is also providing access to market without language barriers; building capacity of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), and empowering women through various products such as the highly innovative Ellevate, a woman focused package targeting at least 40milion women owned business in the MSME space across Africa, by supporting them to become big businesses.
“We provide access to the market, we know the continent, we know the sub-region and ECOWAS, this is part of what we offer at Ecobank. When you discuss with us in Ecobank, we are able to translate into the language you understand. Our financial statements are in English and French. In terms of MSMEs, which are critical, we have put in place an MSME Academy in partnership with AUDA-NEPAD solely for capacity building. But more importantly, we have also set aside N100 billion in Nigeria to support MSMEs. We have a regional trade desk that supports you by giving you access to market, finance, and capacity building. We are able to empower the MSME to gradually become pan African business partners leveraging technology.
Earlier in his welcome address, LCCI President, Mrs Toki Mabogunje said the webinar is to explore the opportunities and challenges of economic integration for stakeholders and for ECOWAS member states, adding that the forum also serves to examine the various trade policies, intra-regional commerce, smooth integration between member states and potential markets with borderless opportunities. She said LCCI will continue to partner with ECOWAS institutions to realise its objective of wealth creation, economic integration and commitment to peace and development.
Special Guest of Honour, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo lauded the efforts of ECOWAS in boosting trade in the sub-region. He was optimistic that collaboration with the organized private sector would further boost commerce and the economy of member states.