The Chairman of Sterling Bank Plc, Mr. Asue Ighodalo has said that the recent endorsement of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) by African countries will impact positively on the agricultural sector and trade on the African continent.
Ighodalo said this in Lagos while addressing participants at the opening of the 4th edition of the Agriculture Summit Africa (ASA) hosted by the bank in collaboration with Saro Africa, AFEX Commodities Exchange Limited, Leadway Assurance, Agriculture and Finance Consultants (AFC), Young Africa Works (MasterCard), Stears, Thrive Agric and Nestle. The annual agro summit was rounded up yesterday.
He explained that the AfCFTA will undoubtedly achieve the objective of fostering agricultural transformation and advancement in the African region as part of the effort to promote food security and competitiveness through the improvement of regional agricultural value chains.
He noted that, “it is unacceptable and an ironic paradox for Africa to lack home grown agricultural produce and have food insecurity in the midst of so much fertile and arable land across the continent.”
According to him, when Sterling Bank started the ASA four years ago, it was conceived as a powerful advocacy platform to provide solutions towards rebuilding and transforming the agriculture sector into a resilience growth driver.
“In the last three years our bank has paid specific attention to and concentrated resources on the health, education, agriculture, renewable energy and transportation. These sectors, when put together, represent the HEART of Sterling and either by design or fortuitously, agriculture has been and remain the heart of the strategy,” Ighodalo said.
The Chairman noted that ASA has become much more than a summit for the bank. “It is now one of the major sources of providing powerful suggestions to drive the wheel of inclusive growth in Africa, create employment, reduce poverty and provide a strong base for the manufacturing sector of the Nigerian economy,” he said.
In his keynote address, Group Managing Director of Saro Africa, Mr. Rasheed Sarumi
noted that the summit comes at a time the country is faced with numerous challenges, noting the agriculture sector if given needed attention can salvage the economy.