UBA Boosts Power Sector with $700mn Funding, Ups Agric. Lending to 7%

United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) has extended US$700 million (N113 billion) in funding to different investors towards the acquisition of power assets in Nigeria’s recently privatized power sector. Phillips Oduoza, Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (GMD/CEO), UBA Plc, said this while speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, last week.
“It is a growth sector we are playing very big” said Oduoza. Besides power, he said UBA is also heavily involved in Nigeria’s telecommunications sector where the bank has taken part in most of the major big ticket transactions.
On agriculture, the UBA Chief Executive said the bank has continued to channel resources to the sector, given that it remains the mainstay of most economies in Africa. “UBA has a deliberate policy to continue to fund agriculture. Our lending to the sector is already above the industry average. We are doing about seven percent of our total portfolio in agriculture”
He commended the fact that lending to agriculture is generally on the upward trend from Nigerian banks, disclosing that banking sector funding to agriculture has moved from just about 0.5 percent of total industry portfolio prior to 2009 to about 4.9 percent of banking industry loan book currently.
“Interestingly, the non-performing loans coming from agriculture lending is lower than most people would have thought.”
Oduoza also explained that UBA is expanding its electronic banking products to improve the way it serves its more than seven million customers. He said that the bank has rolled out an array of electronic banking products, from cards to point of sale terminals, which is helping to reduce the cost to income ratio of the bank while making a positive impact on the bottom line.
Speaking on the bank’s operations across Africa, Oduoza disclosed that UBA currently operates in 19 African countries “and these are the very strong economies that we have in Africa and all of them are doing very well.”
He disclosed that 14 out of the 18 country subsidiaries of the UBA Group across Africa have started returning profits.
He however explained that Nigeria still remains the dominant contributor to the UBA Group’s bottom line making up an average of 75 percent of the Group’s balance sheet while the rest of Africa contributes 25 percent.
Oduoza, however, projects that in about five years, the UBA Group’s 18 African subsidiaries are expected to be contributing about 50 percent of the Group’s balance sheet.
On the forthcoming World Economic Forum, Africa, to be held in Abuja, Oduoza said that the bank is optimistic and looking forward to the event.
“It will enable the country create awareness about the opportunities that exist in Nigeria. Nigeria is a very big market, the population is very large. Beyond oil, the economy has started seeing some form of diversification which the outside world does not know. We are going to use this opportunity to showcase all these new sectors”
Oduoza was at the WEF, Davos to join more than 2500 leaders of companies, institutions and governments to discuss issues arising from the reshaping of the world and how that is expected to impact on society, politics and business with special emphasis on economic, social, financial, environmental and technological trends.

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