The Nigerian government must resolve the identity management system challenges in the country to empower commercial lenders to extend credit to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with less worry, the Managing Director/CEO, Heritage Bank Limited, Mr Ifie Sekibo, has advised. Speaking at the Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria’s (FICAN) 30th-anniversary conference and awards with the theme: “Financing infrastructure & SMEs for inclusive growth in the post-COVID-19 economy,” which was held in Lagos at the weekend, he noted that until the country developed an identity management system that delivers value to the citizenry, SMEs will continue to grapple with financing challenges. Sekibo, who was represented by Olusegun Akanji, Divisional Head, Strategy and Business Solutions noted that: “Though the banking industry has financed a lot of SMEs in terms of count, it is the sector that has the largest numbers of bad loans and frauds in terms of count.”
According to him, the government needs to also put in place enabling policies that will support the private sector to complement the government’s efforts at bridging the country’s infrastructure deficit. He added that the government alone cannot solve the country’s infrastructure challenges, noting that it is the private sector that will deliver the solution. “We need the global private sector intervention to help us achieve a vision of infrastructural development,” Sekibo also said. Also speaking at the event, the Managing Director/ CEO, Fidelity Bank Plc, Mrs Nneka Onyeali- Ikpe, who was represented by Osaigbovo Omorogbe, Divisional Head, SME Banking, said that though banks are willing to support SMEs, many of them lack capacity.