Lagos, Jan. 24, 2024: The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) says the banking sector has overcome past challenges and it is preparing for a future with both difficulties and opportunities.
The President/Chairman of Council, Dr Ken Opara, said this at the 10th National Economic Outlook, organised by the CIBN Centre for Financial Studies, in collaboration with B. Adedipe Associates Ltd., on Tuesday in Lagos.
The meeting had the theme, “Implications for Businesses in 2024’’.
The CIBN chairman said that the banking sector faced significant challenges including non-performing loans, inflation, forex scarcity, and cybersecurity threats.
Despite these difficulties, Opara said that the sector demonstrated resilience, meeting regulatory benchmarks and maintaining stability.
He said that the challenges and lessons learned from 2023 would guide the future of the banking industry.
Opara said, “ However, the lessons learned from 2023 will undoubtedly serve as a guidepost for the future.
“Continued economic stability, effective regulatory measures, and proactive risk management will be crucial as our financial institutions navigate the complexities of the year 2024.
“In the face of adversity, we trust that our banking sector will not only weather the storm but emerge stronger, more resilient, and better equipped to contribute to the sustained growth and prosperity of our nation as we share insights on how we can navigate the economic terrain in 2024 and beyond.’’
He noted that the economic landscape presented both challenges and opportunities, urging the government to diversify the economy by supporting the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).
He advised the government to promote exports, and add value in key sectors like agriculture and manufacturing.
Opara also saw the need for banks to prepare for capitalisation, build buffers, embrace digital transformation, and develop innovative solutions for SMEs and vulnerable sectors.
“Nigerian banks, meanwhile, must proactively prepare for capitalisation to service the desired $1trillion economy by 2026 amidst economic uncertainties.
“Building buffers to withstand potential shocks e.g aiming for the optimal capital0q adequacy ratio would enhance their resilience and ability to support economic growth.
“Additionally, embracing digital transformation and developing innovative financial solutions tailored to SMEs and other vulnerable sectors will be key to navigating the evolving economic landscape successfully,’’ he stressed.
On his part, Mr Muhammad Abdullahi, Deputy Governor, Economic Policy, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), expressed the bank’s commitment to supporting businesses and fostering a sustainable economic environment in Nigeria.
Abdullahi, represented by Dr Mohammed Tumala, Director Monetary Policy Department, CBN, highlighted the government’s efforts to create a more conducive business environment and diversify the economy beyond oil.
He noted that government efforts were aimed to attract investment, generate foreign exchange, and support the growth of various sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, and technology, ultimately leading to a more stable and prosperous future for Nigerian businesses and the economy as a whole.
Abdullahi said, “furthermore, the commitment to fostering a conducive business environment is paramount.
“The new administration’s push for streamlining regulations, reducing bureaucratic hurdles, and promoting transparency could encourage both local and foreign investments.
“Such measures could provide businesses with the confidence and stability needed for sustained growth.
“The government’s focus on promoting non-oil exports like agriculture, manufacturing, and technology, offers fertile ground for new businesses and the growth of trade.
“Increased non-oil exports can help to improve the trade balance, reducing the deficit and generating the needed foreign exchange reserves. This can stabilise the currency and attract foreign investment.
“Also, promoting manufacturing and processing would add value to raw materials before export, generating higher profits and boosting competitiveness in the global market.
“Similarly, encouraging technology exports fosters innovation and research and development, leading to a more technologically-advanced economy, and potentially driving further economic growth.’’
The Founder/Chief Consultant of B. Adedipe Associates Ltd., Dr ‘Biodun Adedipe, therefore, urged the government to actively implement the reforms it has announced.
He said that successful execution of these reforms was crucial for achieving positive outcomes for the country.
“As policy advocates, what we want to do is to encourage them to execute all these reforms that they have announced because of all the outlooks that people are doing all over the world; there are some very funny and strange projections for Nigeria.
“But, every one points to the reforms that we are doing in Nigeria, which means what is important for us is to execute the reforms,’’ Adedipe said.