Aremu Olusegun Obasanjo has said the banking consolidation carried out during his regime made it possible for Nigerian banks to fund Aliko Dangote’s and other entrepreneurs’ business ideas in cement and other sectors.
Obasanjo made the claim while speaking at the Babacar N’daiye Lecture by the Africa Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) on the sideline of the International Monetary Fund /World Bank meetings in Bali, Indonesia.
The former president alongside Professor Jeffry Sachs chaired the second Babacar Ndiaye Lecture series seeks to honour Dr. Ndiaye, who was president of the African Development Bank from 1985 to 1995.
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Speaking on who will develop Africa, Obasanjo said: “Africans will develop Africa and we have to get that right.
“In Nigeria, Aliko Dangote who is the cement magnate and the richest man in Africa said to me, if we had not had the banking reform, all the ideas he had about cement would not have come to pass.”
“We had 87 banks and none of them had enough capital to be able to support but when we reduced to 25 banks, they had enough capital to be able to support him. Today, not only is Aliko producing over 30
million metric tonnes of cement in Nigeria, he is doing the same outside Nigeria in Africa and wherever he is producing cement in Africa, the price of cement has come down. If we can do that in cement, we can do it in steel and any other area of our development but we must get it right, nobody will do it for us.”
He said, Africa cannot overcome fears of trade wars until it achieves 50 percent intra-Africa trade.
“We now have the Continental Free Trade Agreement which is a good idea and I can assure that Nigeria will soon sign. Hopefully we will soon have a president who will be able to sign because the president that is there now, his hands are too weak to sign.”
He said the future of Africa trade and effectiveness of policies to achieve macroeconomic stability in Africa will largely depend on the strength and resilience of Africa-South trade.
Accelerating the process of industrialization and transformation of African economies we must add value to our commodities. And it is in adding value to our commodities that our industrialization begins.This is nicely laid out in the African Union agenda.” He added.
As part of the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade area agreement, the Afreximbank in partnership with the African Union will be organizing later this year, December 11 to 17 2018, in Cairo,Egypt, the first ever intra-African trade fair which will connect buyers and sellers to bridge trade information gaps and accelerate the growth of intra-African trade and transformation of African economies.