The European Investment Bank (eib), Europe's Long term lending institution, and United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, have entered agreement to strengthen Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) in Africa through a Euro50 million (N10 billion) regional funding initiative European Investment Bank Vice President responsible for lending operations in sub-Saharan Africa, Pim Van Ballekom, said, "The European Investment Bank is committed to supporting the private sector in Africa .
This significant partnership between UBA and the European Investment Bank will benefit small businesses seeking to expand and contribute to strengthening of the financial sector in 16 African countries. The ability to access harmonized financial services across borders will also encourage greater regional economic integration on the continent."
According to a statement made available to Vanguard, Mr. Phillips Oduoza, Group Managing Director and CEO, United Bank for Africa Plc, while commenting on the deal, said "Our expansion across Africa in the last five years has been driven by our commitment to fostering economic integration on the continent and supporting the development of African businesses.
The partnership with EIB provides us with an additional source of medium to long term funding and will enhance financial intermediation in key sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructure, transport, energy, health, education and, other sectors where long term funding is required."
He further declared that the EIB loan will be used by UBA for on-lending to eligible customers in its countries of operation.
According to him, "The initiative will assist UBA to strengthen its African regional network and represents the first time that the EIB has provided such facility to a Nigerian Bank for on-lending to small and medium sized businesses across borders.
"In addition to directly helping African entrepreneurs seeking to expand their businesses through lower cost funding, this initiative will further support the development of the financial sector and establishment of best practices in key countries where UBA operates.
The initiative will target at private sector enterprises, including small businesses in post-conflict countries such as Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast and will also be used for expanding and strengthening the under-developed financial sectors of Benin, Chad, Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo."
The UBA boss stated that the European Investment Bank is committed to supporting private sector investment and addressing investment gaps that hinder small business financing in Africa.
"Over the last five years the European Investment Bank has provided more than one billion Euros for on-lending to small investment projects in sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific regions" he noted.