Our reporter/ The Group Managing Director, United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA), Mr. Oliver Alawuba, said Africa’s global bank remains at the forefront of leading conversations that will lead to positive change on the continent, while helping to unlock the vast opportunities waiting to be tapped from Africa.
Alawuba stated this on Wednesday in Lagos while welcoming guests as UBA celebrated this year’s Africa Day, with the fifth edition of the annual UBA Africa Conversations, in commemoration of African unity.
The Conversations, which was held at the Tony Elumelu Amphitheater at the UBA House, saw the gathering of top management staff and business leaders, led by the Group Chairman, UBA Group, Tony Elumelu.
Alawuba said, “This is the time where the beauty, the talent, the culture, the diversity, the warmth of Africa is celebrated. As Africa’s global bank, UBA is committed to helping Africa to become the continent of the future. We take our Pan African-ness seriously, because we believe Africa needs to be celebrated.
Continuing he said, “The theme for this year’s Africa Day is ‘Innovation on the Continent for Growth’ is very apt for our conversation because of the challenges and the opportunities that Africa as a continent is faced with; but the truth remains that between these challenges and opportunities is a thin line which we believe UBA Group can help unlock the challenges and engineer prosperity.”
Panelists were in agreement that the time has come for the rich potential of the continent to be unlocked.
This year’s edition of the UBA Conversation was made up of an all-female panel who are certified professionals from various fields. They include the Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer, UBA Africa, Abiola Bawuah; President, Transnational Corporation (Transcorp) Plc, Owen Omogiafo; award-winning and trendsetting Foodpreneur/Chef, Hilda Baci; Renowned Fashion Designer, Banke Lawson-Kuku and Business & Technology Executive; Folusho Gbadamosi.
Abiola Bawuah who referred to how UBA has led innovation in Africa cited the example of the bank being the first financial institution to have a Board of Directors with more female members than males.
She said, “When we talk of innovation in Africa, we can bring it back home to UBA. As it stands, we have more female board members than any bank, thanks to the Chairman of the board, Tony Elumelu, who believes that women can occupy top roles in organisations and excel. This is very remarkable, and I know that other organisations have started trying to emulate this. So, by this move, we are leading the positive change in Africa, and this is very laudable,”. Encouraging the girl child, Bawuah said “the ceiling has been broken, it is no longer an excuse, we need to seize opportunities, keep moving and be determined.
Owen Omogiafo, who spoke on the uniqueness of Africa, maintained that there is no place like Africa. She spoke on the need to innovate because innovation is survival. On Africa’s potentials, she asked: ‘Where else can you get the kind of returns you get in Africa, we have huge opportunities, deep cultural roots, hard-working people, and all that is needed is to tap into the vast opportunities that we have on this continent.”
Hilda Baci, who is still reeling from the accolades that accompanied her efforts to break the Guinness World Record, after cooking for over 100 hours a few weeks ago, echoed Owen and emphasised the importance of sustainability, discipline and reading in business, as she advised young Africans to be focused and empower themselves through the Art of reading.
She said, “As a young entrepreneur, even if you do not have money to take a business course, you can read. If you want to survive in the business world, it is important to arm yourself with information and learn, as this will keep you going especially in a world that is constantly changing.”
Banke Kuku, a creative fashion entrepreneur, said that the world is cherishing Africa because of its fashion, and added that this is an industry that can be tapped to our benefit. “The world is really looking at Africa and we can use our fashion to keep telling African stories to the world,” she said.
Folusho Gbadamosi, who is a Business & Technology Executive, advised Africans, especially the young people to take advantage of the vast resources that the internet has presented to us.
“There is so much available online, do not let technology scare you, things are changing so we need to arm ourselves with all the information we can garner. Innovation is all about evolution, and so we need to be intentional about positive change. I believe if we all come together and solve the problems, we will go very far indeed.”
In his remarks, Elumelu thanked participants who joined the event both physically and virtually, saying UBA will continue to lead the narrative and discussions on the development, growth, and unity of Africa.
Since 1963, Africa Day has been celebrated every year on May 25th across the African continent and worldwide. The day was inaugurated by the Organisation of African Unity in celebration of the unity, diversity and beauty of Africa and its people.
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