Group Managing Director/CEO, UBA Plc, Mr. Phillips Oduoza, attended the US-Africa Leaders summit held between August 4 to 6 in Washington D.C., USA.  In this  post, he shares his thoughts on the summit. 
Phillips Oduoza, GMD/CEO, UBA Plc 


The recent U.S.–Africa
Leaders Summit presents a significant opportunity – one that African financial institutions
must seize.
A significant part
of the challenge of financing growth and development in Africa rests with
financial institutions; particularly African institutions, that work in
collaboration with international development organizations, investors and
private equity firms, especially those in the U.S.
Those of us at UBA,
along with our colleagues at other African banks, have both an advantage and a
Our advantage is
that we understand, probably more deeply than overseas funding providers, the
potential for growth on the continent, and the specifics of how to achieve it.
We understand the peculiarities of investing in Africa, the attractiveness of
commercial transactions, and how to mitigate and navigate their apparent risks.
Our responsibility,
on the other hand, is to illustrate to our global partners the form that
investment must take and the kinds of projects that need to be funded in order
to help Africa’s nations achieve sustainable growth; this is to ensure that
investments have the greatest potential for success. 
As an African
financial institution, we believe that economic growth on the continent, and the
specifics of how to achieve it, largely depends on our financial intermediary
role, because we realize that without funding, entrepreneurs and businesses
cannot prosper. We already serve as a vital intermediary, consolidating
deposits and transforming those funds into loans for the people and businesses
that need them.
But, the task of educating
our investment partners is neither simple nor straightforward. 
The global understanding
of Africa is improving, but there remains a significant information asymmetry. Many
investors, including sophisticated ones, are still inclined to think of Africa
as a single entity, rather than what it is, a collection of countries with
divergent cultures, needs and resources. 
They are also somewhat at the mercy of
western media, which tends to play up easy, sensational stories, but miss the significant
trends of long-term growth and increasing self-sufficiency. 
Most African nations are stable and
democratic, with improved business climates and abundant investment
opportunities in agriculture, power, transportation, telecommunications, energy
and other sectors.
As one of Africa’s
largest banks, with operations in 19 countries on the continent, and presence in NYC, London and Paris, we at UBA have made huge
investments that span the continent, and have continued to grow our business as
we help fulfill the pressing need for financing and development.
We foresee a
partnership between the U.S. and Africa grounded in mutual understanding and
mutual respect.  All of us – not only
private institutions, but also government leaders – must play a role in making
this happen. We must look to Africa’s government officials to strengthen their
democracies and democratic institutions so that investment will flow into the continent.  
And Africa’s banks must share and leverage
their deep knowledge of the risks and rewards of investing in Africa, the
nature of the needs and opportunities, and the financing structures that will
be most effective in matching resources to projects, generating sustained
returns, and ensuring that African investment becomes, and remains, a long-term,
sustainable project for both Africa and the West.


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