“We are intent on doing what is right for the continent” | Ecobank MD, Charles Kie

“ As a bank, we want for all Africans to have a share in prosperity: to be able to enjoy the fruits of their labour, to be successful and to realise their dreams, ” the Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria, Charles Kie said this during the visit of the President of France, Emmanuel Macron .
Read full speech below:
I am hugely honoured and privileged to be able to welcome His Excellency, the President of France, Emmanuel Macron , who is with us here today. I understand that it is the first time that a French President has made an official visit to Lagos and I am sure that he will enjoy the experience and want to return to Lagos again in the future.
Honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to you all and I hope that you are all as excited as I am to be able to see, experience and hear at first hand this celebration and showcase of Africa’s creative industries and influencers.
Special thanks to Trace for arranging this event, which is launching the 2020 Season of African Cultures in France.
My name is Charles Kie and I am the Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria.
Ecobank is a pan-African bank operating in 36 African countries and employs 15,930 people in over 940 branches and offices. We are proud to be sponsoring this Trace Event.
Primary amongst Ecobank’s aims is its strong resolution to help grow and develop Africa’s businesses and economies and to be the bank of choice for consumers and businesses alike in middle Africa, which will benefit all people in Africa and bring about greater financial integration and cohesion. It’s fitting that Africa’s strong heritage in dance and music also brings so many together by integrating them through entertainment and sheer interest.
Ecobank is passionate about Africa and we are intent on doing what is right for the continent. We want to help people reach their potential and bring them into the mainstream economy.
Our continent has long suffered from financial exclusion which has left many without access to even basic banking facilities. Through our digital strategy, which has already seen over 5 million people download and use our ground-breaking Ecobank mobile app, we have been able to successfully serve the mass market—regardless of where our customers live or work.
Our Xpress Account can be opened instantly via the App and it has removed the barriers to banking, enabling our banking services to be used by the previously unbanked. It is hinged upon the widespread use of mobile phones, and that, coupled with our collaborative partnerships, including those with multi-national telecommunications companies, has meant that it is no longer a pipe dream to expect financial exclusion to be eradicated on the African continent. We are doing it and we are replacing the cash-only society in which many have lived because they have previously lacked any alternative.
We are giving everyone access to banking services, enabling them to send money, pay bills, buy things on the internet, top-up their airtime and receive money on their mobiles wherever they are and whenever they want. We are moving from the slow and bureaucratic banking of the past to the convenient, functional and customer-centric banking of the future. Our customer numbers are rapidly increasing – we gained 4 million customers last year – and we are intent on reaching our target of serving over 100 million customers in the medium term.
Africa has a growing population, with an average age of around just 19, and a burgeoning middle class. By 2040 it is projected to be one of the few continents where its youth demographic will be the largest. It is no wonder that we enjoy a rich and varied taste for food, fashion, music, arts and culture generally.
As a bank, we want for all Africans to have a share in prosperity: to be able to enjoy the fruits of their labour, to be successful and to realise their dreams. In Africa, we have an innate entrepreneurial spirit, and this has bred literally millions of business start-ups.
Businesses need access to finance in order to grow; they need banking to be convenient and efficient to allow them to put their energies into their businesses. Some of today’s small business start-ups will be the multi-nationals of tomorrow. Ecobank has a thriving commercial bank that meets the funding needs of businesses.
Those businesses that can offer their customers a wide choice of convenient payment options will increase their turnover. Ecobank enables them to provide this choice through digital solutions such as Ecobank Pay, which delivers unified and instant self-service across a range of interconnected payment solutions and it affords instant payment capability to businesses, which greatly assists their cashflow and cash management. I am also proud that Ecobank chose to launch it first here in Nigeria.
If you want to listen to the latest hits of our very own Femi Kuti – who will be entertaining us here today – you can do so easily on your mobile phone wherever you are, and this is of particularly great comfort to those in diaspora who want to stay in touch with their homeland. What isn’t so great for expatriate workers, is the charges that they incur when sending cross-border remittances to their dependants or relatives back home. These charges can take huge bites out of what they send – the World Bank found that remittance services in Sub-Saharan Africa are the costliest in the world at an average cost of 9.4%. Inter-regional remittances can be even more expensive, with the payment corridor connecting Angola to Namibia costing as much as 21.4% of the remittance amount – that’s over a fifth of what is sent. This reduces the living standards of the dependants which in turn impacts negatively on the local economy.
At Ecobank we are doing something about this. Ecobank’s mobile App remittance solution, Rapidtransfer, is a game-changer for the cross-border remittance market. It is a quick, easy and efficient digital solution facilitating low cost remittances.
African culture is enjoying growth and widespread attention globally. We are witnessing large sums paid for African art recently. Sales of African art at Christies in Paris raised €6.1 million in June and just over a year ago Sotheby’s inaugural sale of modern and contemporary African Art generated £2.8 million in aggregate sales. Nigeria’s British-based artist Yinka Shonibare MBE’s ‘Crash Willy’ sold for £224,750. I wonder how much was charged for remitting the proceeds if they were sent overseas.
In the film world, Nigeria’s ‘Nollywood’ is the second biggest film industry in the world with 2,000 productions every year, generating more than US$4 billion. The recent Black Panther film has achieved phenomenal success and is one of the highest grossing films ever.
Some of Africa’s musicians have become global superstars and we have African models gracing the catwalks of the leading international fashion brands.
Africa’s arts, culture and creative industries are realising their potential and are a testament to the potential of Africa as a whole. Ecobank is determined to support the cultural industries to further develop, to exchange and share views, and to secure the growth that will benefit their sector and Africa as a whole.
It is heartening to see international recognition for African culture through the presence of President Macron here today, and let me assure him that Ecobank shares a modern view of Africa: we are not a continent to be defined by our past, we have a bright future, fashioned by Africans for the benefit of all Africans. We welcome his commitment to embrace and work with the whole of Africa, and not just our Francophone brothers and sisters. We join him in his desire to deepen Africa’s global economic relationships.
Africa is open for international investment to drive our trade development, and to continue to industrialise and improve our infrastructure, so that we can grow our regional and global value chains, can diversify our economies and can grow our trade and economies.
Ecobank is doing its part to help these things happen. We are ensuring that all Africans have access to innovative digital banking and the convenient service they need and deserve. We want to engage with all sections of society and to help be of assistance to all of them, their companies and nations, to help realise their visions and ambitions and to enable them to stand tall as a competitive and valued contributor to the world.
The future is bright, the future is pan-African.
Read » “We are intent on doing what is right for the continent” | Ecobank MD, Charles Kie on YNaija
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