ELUMELU, UBA PLC IS NO. 1 CHAMPION FOR AFRICA’S GROWTH; HOLDS 5TH AFRICA DAY CONVERSATION
By Oki Samson, Trek Africa Newspaper
It was an all-female panel speakership on Wednesday 24th May, as the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc held the fifth edition of its annual UBA Africa Conversations in celebration of this year’s Africa Day to commemorate African unity, Trek Africa Newspaper can report.
The panelists comprising the Executive Director/CEO of UBA Africa, Abiola Bawuah; President, Transnational Corporation (Transcorp) Plc, Owen Omogiafo; renowned Fashion Designer and Founder, Banke Kuku, Banke Kuku-Lawson; business & technology Executive and Board Exec. Director of Junior Achievement of Nigeria, Foluso Gbadamosi; and award-winning foodpreneur and Chef, Hilda Baci unanimously agreed that innovation is at the crux of growth for Africa.
The conversations which was held at the Tony Elumelu Amphitheater at the UBA House had top management staff and business leaders in attendance. Top of the pack was the Group Chairman, UBA Group, Mr. Tony Elumelu. Others were the Group Managing Director, Oliver Alawuba, and other key players in the economic, financial and business landscape in Africa.
In his welcome address, the GMD, Mr. Oliver Alawuba noted that the conversations were hatched so that ‘the beauty, the talent, the culture, the diversity, the warmth of Africa is celebrated. As Africa’s global bank, UBA is committed to helping Africa to become the continent of the future. We take our Pan African-ness seriously, because we believe Africa needs to be celebrated.’
The conversation themed ‘Innovating the Continent for Growth availed the 5 leading women to share their perspectives on Africa’s growth from their various professional standpoints. They also hailed Mr. Tony Elumelu for championing innovation in Africa.
Abiola Bawuah who was the first female to become a bank’s CEO in Ghana recalled: ‘Our chairman is the innovator in Africa. It was strange when he gave me the job. Normally as female, once you get to DMD you have reached the zenith. A lot of banks have followed suit since then in Ghana. What has happened in UBA is complete innovation of ideas. Today I am the CEO of UBA Africa’.
The President of Transcorp Plc Owen Omogiafo maintained that Africa is a land of opportunities, ‘Where else can you get the kind of returns you get in Africa, we have huge opportunities, deep cultural roots, hard-working people, and all that is needed is to tap into the vast opportunities that we have on this continent’. She added that Afam Gas plant which is owned by Transcorp has the capacity to power 2 million homes.
On her part, the fashion entrepreneur, Banke Kuku believes that fashion is another major way by which Africa can project itself to the world as she affirmed that ‘the world is really looking at Africa and we can use our fashion to keep telling African stories to the world’.
The award-winning Nigerian chef, Hilda Baci says food can be Africa’s next ‘oil’ if we would inject the ideas of sustainability, discipline and reading into food business and not just take food business lightly. ‘As a young entrepreneur, even if you do not have money to take a business course, you can read. If you want to survive in the business world, it is important to arm yourself with information and learn, as this will keep you going especially in a world that is constantly changing’, Baci said.
Folusho Gbadamosi also towed the line of education as key to sustainable innovation. ‘There is so much available online, do not let technology scare you, things are changing so we need to arm ourselves with all the information we can garner. Innovation is all about evolution, and so we need to be intentional about positive change. I believe if we all come together and solve the problems, we will go very far indeed’.
Visibly elated at the depth of conversations and the turnout of the event, the Chairman of UBA Group, Mr. Tony Elumelu could not hold up from the microphone. Elumelu said he had come to see the new way this year’s Africa Day will be celebrated as he had been told to hands off from involvement. He showered praises on the panelists and members of the UBA who made the day unique. He also thanked the audience who joined the event both physically and virtually. He noted that UBA will continue to lead the narrative and discussions on the development, growth, and unity of Africa.
United Bank for Africa is one of the largest employers in the financial sector on the African continent, with 25,000 employees group wide and serving over 35 million customers globally. Operating in twenty African countries and in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, France and the United Arab Emirates, UBA provides retail, commercial and institutional banking services, leading financial inclusion and implementing cutting edge technology.