The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, on Tuesday predicted that Nigeria’s economy would record between 2.5% and 3.0% growth this year despite the lingering impact of COVID-19 pandemic across all the broad sectors of the nation’s economy.
Specifically, the top banker said that the apex bank was targeting a 15 percent inflation rate and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of between 2.5% to 3.0% at the end of the year.
This is even as he hinted that the apex bank would launch the InfraCorp Plc, the entity that will manage the N15trn Infrastructure Fund in October this year as part of the collaborative efforts of key agencies to bridge the nation’s infrastructure funding gap.
Emefiele disclosed this at the annual banking and finance conference organised by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) in Abuja.
The apex bank governor said that the project, which was conceptualised by the CBN in collaboration with the African Finance Corporation (AFC) and the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), had the potential of addressing the challenge of huge infrastructure deficit in the country.
He clarified: “In this regard, I am pleased to announce that InfraCorp, the infrastructure company being created by the CBN, African Finance Corporation and the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority to raise N15trn, will be unveiled in October, 2021.
“InfraCorp would enable the use of mostly private capital to support infrastructure investment that will have a multiplier effect on growth across critical sectors. The purpose of the N15tn being raised is to address some of our infrastructure needs, while providing reasonable returns to investors.
“We believe this well-structured fund can act as a catalyst for growth in the medium and the long run. The support of the banking community will be important in achieving this objective”, Emefiele added.
While noting that Nigerian banks remained strong and resilient despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CBN governor hinted that in order to consolidate on the growth and resilience of banks over the past decade, the apex bank would be establishing the Nigerian International Financial Centre (NIFC)within the next one year.
According to him, the NIFC will act as an international gateway for capital and investments and will largely be driven by technology and payment system infrastructure.
Emefiele explained that NIFC would explore the opportunities created by existing laws such as the BOFIA 2020, NEPZA and other CBN regulations to create a fully global investment and financial hub where monies, ideas, and technology will move freely without hindrance.
He further clarified that the proposed financial hub would curate local and international banks to make them global champions.
He said the NIFC will be a 24/7 Financial centre that will complement London, New York and Singapore financial centres and enable an acceleration of Nigeria’s home grown initiatives such as the Infracorp Plc.
In addition, the apex bank governor expressed optimism that the NIFC would also complement the CBN’s initiatives on the Nigerian Commodity Exchange and the National Theatre creative hubs for Nigerian youths and the E-naira project slated for launch next month.
Emefiele also spoke on the mileage recorded so far on the bank’s digital connectivity drive, saying that by now a robust payment system has continued to evolve towards meeting the needs of individuals, households and businesses nationwide.