Thursday, 5 March 2015

Things Are Good in Nigeria, Ecobank Chief Tells Investors...

Ecobank's Group Chief Executive Officer, Albert Essien

Ecobank's Group Chief Executive Officer, Albert Essien, has said that the current economic and CURRENCY headwinds in Nigeria had not affected his company immensely.
He told CNBC Africa during an interview on Wednesday: “So far so good; Nigeria is our biggest operation. Even though oil and crude OIL PRICES  have had impact on our business, it has not encountered downside risks.”
“Things are good in Nigeria. We are resilient and absorbing whatever impact to date very well.”
Essien said investors needed to make long-term INVESTMENTS decisions as this was not an in and out thing.
Investors need to prepare properly so as to understand the local environment. Investors also need to have a focus as to what one wants to do,” he added.
“I think Africa offers great opportunities, the continent offer good returns even though there are challenges these challenges are surmountable.”
Essien added that the region was anticipating much investment from the Middle East especially through FINANCING into infrastructure development and equity financing.
He said his group had covered much ground in attracting talent and diversifying the business in Nigeria, adding that the company was now big on transaction services.
Essien is expected to step down soon as his term comes to an end.
He said his group was expecting to announce his successor in June as his Ecobank was busy with interviews from both internal and external candidates having applied to succeed him.
Earlier in his remarks when giving a keynote address in Munich at the 4th Conference on Managing Risk in Africa, Essien said  “Whatever risks are identified, they are best viewed holistically rather than in isolation. New market entrants will need to develop a clear risk appetite and weigh the opportunity against the cost of risk mitigation, which can be expensive,” Essien said.
He said the setting up of a risk review board would help ensure the right level and scope of ongoing risk monitoring
Against the backdrop of what he outlined as a generally positive outlook for Africa, he advised investors against viewing Africa as one, but rather 54 countries with different growth prospects, different infrastructure, TRADE agreements, tax regulations, culture and levels of technological development.
He also urged investors to be prepared to engage with African countries on a long-term basis and avoid abrupt changes in investment focus because of perceived instability in certain markets.
Essien encouraged managing risks associated with doing business in Africa, including fiscal and monetary policy issues such as FOREIGN EXCHANGE restrictions, transparency and compliance, political instability and corruption and resource and infrastructure challenges.

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