The Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company Plc (NMRC) was amongst the 800 participants consisting of government and business leaders that attended the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) U.S. and Africa Business Summit hosted in Washington DC from June 13-16, 2017. As the leading U.S. business association solely focused on the U.S. and Africa trade and investment, the sessions at CCA’s biennial signature event – the U.S. and Africa Business Summit – primarily featured private sector solutions and how public-sector actors could support business through the provision of an enabling environment.
The 2017 Summit focused on “America’s Stake in Africa” and aimed to shape and promote effective U.S.- Africa trade and investment policies. More than 140 speakers including leading private sector executives across CCA’s core sectors discussed challenges and opportunities related to the theme of the conference. The speakers included Honourable Wilbur Ross, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique, and Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB).
The President of the African Development Bank Dr Adesina who described himself as “Africa’s Optimist-In-Chief” emphasized the need to move to an investment mindset. He stated that Africa needs to move from aid-based to investment based development mindset. He re-iterated that in 2016 the economies of atleast 12 African countries grew at higher than 5% attracting $56 Billion in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
The Summit also provided a global opportunity and platform for NMRC’s CEO Professor Charles Inyangete to engage stakeholders on how data and lack of qualitative information is impacting the U.S. and Africa investment relationship. The Sessions on information and Communications Technology presented a defining moment for NMRC to contribute towards the discuss on “Expanding Digital Financial Inclusion and Data: How Information Will Transform Business in Africa”. It was noted at the session that about 168 million people will become connected in Africa in the next five years – the bulk of this will no doubt be in Nigeria.
During the session, Professor Inyangete unveiled NMRC’s Mortgage Market System (MMS) and Housing Market Information Portal (HMIP) as innovative and disruptive technologies that consolidates Nigeria’s fragmented Housing Market and together positions NMRC to unlock value driven by data and technology in view of the fact that data is considered the next frontier for value creation in business globally.
Professor Inyangete in reiterating the lessons learned at the Summit noted that Despite the significant strides in technology that have enabled Africa to leapfrog traditional financial development, growth is still stifled by challenges that include policy and infrastructure. He further stated that the Economist in 2014 described Africa as “the continent of missing data”. This according to professor Inyangete underlines the need for data to drive evidence-based decisions by businesses, investors, and policy makers amongst others.
Though the Summit unveiled opportunities that show technology was being leveraged for wide range of solutions like mobile money in Kenya and other rural parts of Africa, there is still risks and challenges like regulatory risks, low level of financial literacy, and the need to make digital payment superior to cash on the continent. Other issues discussed included having a single digital platform for exchange of `funds, understanding and responding to the needs of consumers that include trust and convenience.