The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive of Zenith Bank, Ebenezer Onyeagwu, has called for increased collaboration of Nigerians in the diaspora for the nation to achieve its economic growth targets. He made the call during the 4th Edition of the Nigeria Diaspora Investment Summit 2021 organised by the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) on Tuesday, November 16, 2021. The hybrid event which held at the State House Banquet Hall, Aso Villa Abuja & Virtually had in attendance the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and State Governors.
Delivering his remarks on this year’s theme: “Partnership and Linkages for Post Covid Economic Growth”, Onyeagwu noted the aptness of the theme of the summit, as it underscores Nigeria’s need for robust growth following the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which triggered a severe macroeconomic shock.
Onyeagwu commended the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for leading with policies that create an enabling environment for investment in Nigeria, such as the "Naira 4 Dollar Scheme", which contributed to boosting diaspora remittances by providing incentives for recipients of international money transfers. In his view, this and other policies encourage the senders and recipients to channel inflows through the official market, knowing that they will not be shortchanged.
Onyeagwu also passionately highlighted Nigeria's enormous investment potential, especially the nation's huge market and youthful population, which is a veritable source of labour and a consuming population.
Highlighting the need for partnership and collaboration of Nigerians in the diaspora to achieve Nigeria's economic growth targets, particularly during these challenging times, Onyeagwu pointed out that across the globe, the diaspora community plays a critical role in their home country’s economic growth and development. He noted that Nigeria has enormous potential to attract significant diaspora inflow, most of which is coming in through informal channels. These remittance inflows and investments, which are counter-cyclical, help in ameliorating foreign exchange challenges as the funds form a significant buffer for the country’s foreign reserves.
Onyeagwu identified the healthcare sector as one area where diaspora investment and intervention are urgently required. In his words, “by leveraging the expertise of our diaspora healthcare professionals in some of the emerging world-class health facilities in Nigeria, such as Evercare Hospital, Ibom Specialist Hospital and Base University Hospital, we can begin to curb the loss of foreign exchange to medical tourism". He, therefore, called on the various associations and groups of Nigerians in the diaspora to pull resources together and identify viable investment opportunities in the homeland.
Whilst commending the untiring efforts of NIDCOM led by Honourable Abike Dabiri-Erewa in supporting the engagement of Nigerians in diaspora in the country’s policies, projects, and development programmes, Onyeagwu canvassed that the narrative should shift from diaspora remittance to Diaspora Direct Investment as advocated by Honourable Abike Dabiri-Erewa and Mr. Emeka Offor, Acting Executive Secretary/CEO, Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC).
Onyeagwu noted that as a socially responsible organization, Zenith Bank continues to play its part in promoting investment in Nigeria. In the light of this, the bank is proud of its partnership with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) and the Nigeria Diaspora Investment Summit (NDIS) and remains committed to creating value for Nigerians in the diaspora through its unique products, services and quality service, including mortgage. He noted that Nigerians in the diaspora could open bank accounts with Zenith Bank through various online and digital channels and do not need to visit Nigeria to have bank accounts back home.
Zenith Bank is Nigeria's largest and one of Africa's largest financial institutions by tier-1 capital, with shareholders' funds in excess of NGN1.1 trillion ($2.64 billion) as at December 31, 2020. The bank is a clear leader in the Nigerian financial space, with several firsts in the deployment of innovative products and solutions that ensure convenience, speed and safety of transactions.