SME Development and Investment in Agriculture must be prioritized – Experts at UBA Africa Day

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Home-grown Solutions and Partnerships between Private Sector and Government are key to rebuilding Africa

African experts and  thought leaders who gathered at the 2020 edition of  UBA Africa day conversations have reinstated the need for deliberate development of the Small and Medium size enterprises and investment in agriculture as necessities for rebuilding Africa and putting the continent on a stronger footing post-COVID-19.

Speakers at the second panel session included Social Entrepreneur and Founder, LEAP Africa, Ndidi Nwuneli (Nigeria),Regional CEO, UBA West Africa, Abiola Bawuah (Ghana); Leadership Coach and Chairman, Go Ahead Africa Ltd, Roland Kwemain (Cameroon), Senior Program Coordinator, Regional Network of Agricultural Policy Research Institutes, Dr Nalishebo Meebelo (Zambia),Special Assistant to the President Muhammadu Buhari on Digital and New Media, Tolu Ogunlesi (Nigeria), Founder and Executive Director, Social Change Factory, Sobel Aziz Ngom (Senegal); and Abiola Bauwah.

The theme of the virtual event which was moderated by Veteran Journalist and Media Consultant, Eugenia Abu was ‘Domestic Policies, Regional Development and a Global Agenda: SDGs and African Development at Crossroads

According to Ndidi Nwuneli,the agricultural sector remained hugely untapped, and there is a the need for a change of mindset where people usually equate agriculture to poverty. “This is a $1 trillion industry and we are neglecting it; therefore my charge to you is that we invest in the agricultural sector, prioritize it, leverage it, transform our educational system to prepare our young people for this sector, change the mindset and trade with each other,” she stated.

Abiola Bauwah believes  Africa should more within and  rely less on foreign donors said: “There are five areas we should work on more for us to reach the SDG goals; the private sector; rapid industrialization; institutions and the rule of law; we should also develop our human capital and remove the barriers across Africa. We should institute Africapitalism which is an economic philosophy that says that the human and capital resources of Africa are the only ways in which we can develop Africa.”

In Nalishebo Meebelo’s words  “Government cannot do it alone, they need to work with other stakeholders. Cut and paste solutions do not work for us here in Africa, we need to have our own homegrown solutions to fight this pandemic.”

Eugenia Abu stated that “Women, entrepreneurial champions, young people and collaborations between African countries are very key to developing Africa,” The potentials of these two groups must be harnessed in proffering  solutions to Africa’s numerous challenges.

Roland Kwemain would love to see more organisations and institutions  more institutions come up with initiatives similar to what UBA has done. “If 100 multinationals in Africa were doing that UBA is doing, we would go far because CSR is amazing leverage not just for the brand but also for supporting people & women in terms of activities. The truth is that we need a partnership between the government, corporates and the civil society,” he said.

Sobel Aziz Ngom also recognized the need for youth involvement . “It is time to not just serve young people but to trust them to lead” Ngom stated.

Tolu Ogunlesi hopes that Africa will not forget the lesson being learnt during this pandemic and go back to where it used to be.    “We need to start thinking about how to make sure that this is not just for the age of COVID but for now and beyond COVID-19” Tolu stated.

With global presence in the United Kingdom, the USA and France and footprint in over 20 countries across Africa, United Bank for Africa offers banking services to more than twenty million customers globally. The foremost pan-African financial institution connects people and businesses across Africa through retail, commercial and corporate banking, innovative cross border payments and remittances, trade finance and ancillary banking services. UBA was established in 1948.

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