To consolidate on the resilience in the banking and financial sector, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has concluded plans for the establishment of Nigerian International Financial Centre (NIFC). To be brought on stream in the next 12 months, NIFC will act as international gateway for capital and investments, driven by technology and payment system infrastructure.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, broke the news of the initiative on Tuesday in Abuja at the 14th Annual Conference of Charted Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN). The conference is themed: “Economic Recovery, Inclusion & Transformation: The Role of Banking and Finance,” which had the President, Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, His Excellency, Paul Kagame of Rewanda participating virtually alongside some captains of industry. Giving insight into various initiatives by the bank, Emefiele said the financial hub to be unveiled by CBN would curate local and international banks to make them global champions.
“The NIFC will be a 24/7 financial centre that will complement London, New York and Singapore financial centers and enable an acceleration of our home grown initiatives such as the Infracorp Plc, the N15 trillion infrastructure fund, which we will be launching in October 2021. “The NIFC will also complement our initiatives on the Nigerian Commodity exchange and National Theatre creative hubs for our youths as well as the e-naira project which will also debut in October 2021. “The NIFC will take advantage of our existing laws such as the BOFIA 2020, NEPZA and other CBN regulations to create a fully global investment and financial hub where monies, ideas, and technology will move freely without hindrance,” Emefiele said. Emefiele appreciated the entire banking community for rallying round CBN in addressing unprecedented effects of COVID-19 on Nigeria’s economy.
CBN governor’s remark dwelt extensively on areas CBN intervened during COVID-19 and effort by the bank to ensure banking space remain resilient and strong. Some of the measures taken by the bank as listed by Emefiele included a one year extension of the moratorium on principal repayments for CBN intervention facilities; regulatory forbearance granted to banks to restructure loans given to sectors that were severely affected by pandemic; reduction of the interest rate on CBN intervention loans from 9 to 5 percent and bobilization of key stakeholders in the Nigerian economy through the CACOVID alliance, which led to the provision of over N23 billion in relief materials to affected households, and the set-up of 39 isolation centers across the country.