Finance: UBA Connect Deepens Intra –African Trade As Customers Can Now Make Cash Withdrawals In Local Currencies

By Elizabeth Chukwuma

  The amiable   Kingsley Uzoka  led Management of the United Bank For Africa plc, a Pan African Bank ,described as one of the most financially  solid  bank in Africa, appear to  have   kept to its promise   of facilitating  intra-African  trade and Financial inclusion by providing  premium  services  to its Customers  through consistent  innovation  and relentless  investment in technology. The Bank officials, according to Financial experts may  have   understood the importance  of the intra-African trade  and  thus, have moved a step further  to assist Customers do their  business without tears.

The Bank had started  with the launching of the  Africash  product services   which facilities its  intra-African  money transfer services,  where Customers  could easily move  money around for trade  and investment  within the Continent. The noticeable   limitations in the operation of   the Africash services such  that Customers  could only their financial   conduct transactions  only  within their  sun-regions in the African Continent, may have forced the bank officials to go back on the  drawing  board to improve on the service to  meet the demand of  businessmen , Micro, Small and Medium  Scale, MSMS, entrepreneurs who are desirous to withdraw in any branch of the bank within the Continent.

  Take for instance, the Africah serveice, Customers from  countries in  the CEMAC region, comprising of  Gabon, Cameroon,  the Central African Republic, CAR,  Chad, the Republic of the Congo, popular, Zaire,  and Equatorial Guinea, who  could only access their  bank accounts  only in branches of UBA,  anywhere within the region.

It was indeed,  not really encouraging  as it could not help many African businessmen and Traders , MSMEs,  regarded as  the engines of economic  growth in the Continent to withdraw  cash  any  of the deposit bank location within the Continent  from   their accounts   to promote their business.

Always thinking ahead of its Competitors in the nation’s  cheaqured  Banking Industry, the UBA  officials were said to have developed   the UBA Connect,  described in banking circles  as the ‘’flagship product ’’ of the bank  as  it  enables   Customers of  the bank to conduct  their traditional  banking transactions in   any UBA branch in the 20 African countries  where the bank operates. Note that  the bank also has   established presence in the United Kingdom, United States of America, USA, and France.

According to a top official of the bank, the  ‘’UBA Connect service which  is available  to both Customers and non –customers of the  UBA,  is expected to encourage  intra-African trade, as cash withdrawals  can now be  done in local  currencies  within the Continent . This is in addition to cash deposits which  could also  be made  at any location of the bank  regardless of where the  account was domiciled.

Oliver  alawuba, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, UBA Africa, who broke the cheery news  recently said ‘’Africa  stands to benefit  substantially  from the  intra-African trade , which is facilitated  by the easy flow   of Capital within the Continent’’.

An elated Alawuba, noted that ‘’as a bank  committed  to creating  superior value  for all its stakeholders and Customers,  it will  remain ‘’focused  in ensuring  that  it  will continue  to contribute  significantly  to the development  of Africa by improving accessibility to Funds  and trade  with the new product: UBA Connect’’, among other innovative services.

The  UBA Africa, ECO,  further explained that the product  will  allow for  easy transfers  to UBA  accounts  across  the African countries  as well as cash deposit into  the bank accounts  at any of the  locations in  the African Continent. According to him the cash transactions  will be dispensed  to Customers  in local Currencies  at a Competitive exchange rates.

Dupe Olusola, the bank Group Head, Marketing,  who has been instrumental in developing some  of the product services  designed to  further market the bank both within and outside the country  was said to  have given an insight on the operation of the UBA connect to ensure that Customers will not experience any difficulty  in the process.

‘’To use  the service    in Africa, a UBA Connect Send,  Receive or Transfer Forms needs to be completed , with valid identification, particular, International Passport with valid VISA or  Immigration Stamp , in the case of business men or Traders from the  member countries of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS,  sub-region.

Uzoka: GMD, UBA plc

Many believe that the UBA, regarded as the biggest  Financial Institution in Africa, which could  Compete with any other big bank in the world  economy may have  launched the UBA Connect to   benefit significantly  from the anticipated $35 billion volume of trade in Africa with the Launching of the Continental free Trade Area, CfTA, by the  African Union, AU.

That much was confirmed by  the Maritime News  reliable source in the bank  who disclosed that  they were excited  about the possibilities  the future holds  for intra-African trade , with  the number of countries   that have ratified the CfTA Agreement. According to the  source  since the Agreement   will create  a single African market   of more than  a billion Consumers  with a total Gross Domestic Product, GDP, OF over  3 trillion ,  UBA, has no option but to reposition itself  to support individuals  and businesses in readiness for the takeoff of the CfTA ,to avoid being taken unawares.

 Babatude Ruwase, President, Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry  had alluded to the fact that CfTA , will go a long way to boost  trade in the African Continent  with a Population  of about 1.2 billion  and market size  of about  $3 trillion  as it will allow  member countries  to specialize  in their areas of Comparative Advantage at the last LCCI, Trade Fair, in Lagos.

This is good news  for Nigerian manufacturing  Companies , particular, Dangote Group of Companies, and other Cement   manufacturer and other items  in the country.Note that prior to the Launching of  the CfTA, by  AU,  Cement manufacturers  in Nigeria, particular, Group of Companies,   c were  not allowed  to sell their item  in Benin Republic,  even though the two countries  are members of the  ECOWAS Trade Liberlisation Scheme, ETLS.

Also.  Burkina Faso,  another member of the West African sub-regional economic  bloc was said to have also  denied  Nigerian Companies    from selling  certain products  , like Linker in their country. .The country, according to the Magazine  findings   prefer to import the product  from  the Asian country of China , Turkey and other parts of the world instead of Nigeria which manufactures the  product. Insiders informed the Magazine,  that the  landlocked country take delivery of the imported Linker  product from the Port of Lome, Togo.

Given the huge amount  spent by the  UBA and other Financial Institutions , in Nigeria and other parts of Africa , in general , to acquire  modern   technologies  that could connect all  their  bank branches   throughout  Africa and other parts of the world in order  to benefit from the  CfTA, through funding of intra-African  trade, this is  where the  Authority of the Heads of States and Government  must ensure  compliance  with the Trade Agreement  guidelines by participating countries   to avoid being  another  ETLS, which member countries had  abandoned  over the years to pursue  their individual trade relationship with other countries outside  the   ECOWAS  sub-region.

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