The Ghana Cedi has neared the 20 percent depreciation against the US Dollar.
The European Investment Bank (EIB), Europe’s long-term lending institution, and United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, have agreed to strengthen small and medium businesses in Africa through a 50-million Euro regional funding initiative.
The initiative was sealed last week in Lagos by these two leading financial institutions. The EIB loan will be used by UBA for on-lending to eligible customers in its countries of operation including Ghana.
The scheme is expected to assist UBA to strengthen its African regional network and represents the first time that the EIB has provided such a facility to a Nigerian bank for on-lending to small and medium sized businesses across borders.
This initiative will further support the development of the financial sector and the establishment of best practices in key countries where UBA operates. The initiative will target private sector enterprises, including small businesses in post-conflict countries such as Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast, and will also be utilised for expanding and strengthening the under-developed financial sectors of Benin, Chad, Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
EIB’s Vice-President Pim Van Ballekom, responsible for lending operations in sub-Saharan Africa, stated at the signing ceremony of the pact that “the scheme would bolster operations of small businesses in the region”.
Van Ballekom added: “The European Investment Bank is committed to supporting the private sector in Africa. This significant partnership between UBA and the European Investment Bank will benefit small businesses seeking to expand and contribute to strengthening of the financial sector in 16 African countries.” Indeed, “The ability to access harmonised financial services across borders will also encourage greater regional economic integration on the continent,” he confidently surmised.
UBA’s Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Phillips Oduoza also chimed in, stating that the scheme would foster financial intermediaries in key sectors of sub-Saharan economy:”Our expansion across Africa in the last five years has been driven by our commitment to fostering economic integration on the continent and supporting the development of African businesses.”
Lastly, “The partnership with EIB provides us with an additional source of medium to long term funding and will enhance financial intermediation in key sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructure, transport, energy, health, education and, other sectors where long term funding is required,” Oduoza stated.