Without adequate financial inclusion, poverty cannot be effectively eradicated in Nigeria and other nations of Africa, First Bank Nigeria Plc stated on Friday.
Financial inclusion refers to efforts aimed at making financial products and services accessible and affordable to all individuals and businesses, regardless of their personal net worth or company size.
Delivering the keynote address at the Africa Legislative and Good Governance Conference in Abuja, the Chief Executive Officer, First Bank, Adesola Adeduntan, said the banking sector was at the heart of economic development and had been pushing for proper financial inclusion.
Adeduntan also revealed that in a bid to deepen financial inclusion in Nigeria and other nations of Africa, First Bank had paid over N56bn as commission to its FirstMonie agents over the last four years.
He said, “Today, in most parts of Africa, at the heart of economic development is the development of the banking sector itself, because without financial inclusion you cannot eradicate poverty, neither can you even promote employment.”
The First Bank boss noted that while inclusive economic growth was one area of impact of the banking sector, another area had to do with infrastructure growth.
“On the growth of infrastructure all over the world, Africa not being an exception, we’ve come to the realisation that government alone does not have the resources to finance the kind of infrastructure that we require,” he said.
Adeduntan added, “So most of the developments you are seeing, be it roads, bridges, train services, among others, have actually been designed as a public-private partnership with the private sector and essentially financed by banks, putting the capital on the table to fast-track the development of infrastructure.
“If you are to wait for the government to come up with resources to build infrastructure, Africa will never emerge. But we are in a hurry to develop and emerge.”
On efforts by the bank to deepen financial inclusion and create jobs, he said, “Over 500,000 direct and indirect jobs have been created to tackle unemployment through the First Bank’s FirstMonie agent network.
“Over 35,000 of FirstBank’s FirstMonie agents are women, enabling us to drive gender-inclusive growth within rural communities. Over two million individuals have been economically impacted via the jobs created through FirstBank’s FirstMonie agent banking proposition.
“Over NGN56bn has been paid to agents as commission over the last four years, with the attendant multiplier effect on rural communities.”
The First Bank boss spoke on the topic, “Banking for the Common Good,” as he was honoured with the African Banking Leadership Legacy Award during the conference in Abuja.