Africa’s global bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc has collaborated with Google and ISP partner to launch Google Station in 11 key UBA branches in Lagos State as part of plans to roll out 200 stations in the country.
Google Station, a platform for providing free, high-speed Wi-Fi hotspots in public places, began in Lagos last year, and extended to Abuja in December in partnership with Backbone Connectivity Network.
This google-powered initiative would allow customers access to internet connectivity within the 11 branches and its environs, thereby facilitating their day-to-day businesses and activities, while ensuring unhindered connectivity.
The 11 branches where the hotspot will be located are: UBA Bank Road, 810-811 Bank Road, Daleko; UBA Matori, 21 Fatai Atere street; UBA Surulere, 152 Ogunlana Drive; UBA Allen, 13 Allen Avenue, Ikeja; UBA Tisco Plaza, Alausa; UBA Apapa, 11-13 Warehouse Road, Apapa; UBA Marina, 55 Marina, Lagos Island; UBA HQ, Broad Street, Marina; UBA Lekki Admiralty; UBA Oke Arin and UBA Aspamda Plaza, Trade Fair.
At the official launch which took place in UBA’s Head Office on Wednesday, UBA’s Executive Director/ Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Chuks Nweke, expressed UBA’s excitement over the collaboration, adding that the move will go a long way to present opportunities far beyond the imagination of both organisations.
He noted that the challenges of financial inclusion which the USSD platform has not been able to solve will be eased through the Google Station, as the financially excluded will now be able to access the internet and enjoy the services provided free of charge.
He said, “It is an interesting platform which will ultimately benefit everyone. It is a win-win for everyone. Customers will have ease of doing businesses, especially with the growing use of smart phones, and the 52 million Nigerians who have otherwise been financially excluded will now have access to data through this collaboration and can carry out their transactions with ease.
“Interestingly, SMEs, who previously had challenges with funding can now do other things which they couldn’t achieve before, such as accounting services and others. Also, UBA recently launched an educational app, and so, students will be able to use these Google Station platform to carry out their necessary research from the comfort of their homes, it is an awesome opportunity with benefits for everyone which we are presenting to our customers in line with our customer 1st philosophy.
Group Head, Marketing, UBA Plc, Dupe Olusola said in addition to the 11 locations, the organisations are looking to expand beyond the shores of Nigeria to other African countries where UBA operates. She added that by the collaboration, the initiative will help ease the burden off customers while also presenting them with opportunities to excel beyond boundaries.
Google Station is a simple set of tools to roll-out Wi-Fi hotspots, and aims to provide fast and reliable Wi-Fi in more places where more people spend time, such as bus stations, shopping malls, airports and public transit stations.
Specifically, the Wi-Fi service is available free of charge and partners leverage Google Station’s business model, which enables venues, system integrators, businesses and ISPs with access to fibre to setup, maintain and monetise their Wi-Fi networks.
Google Nigeria’s Country Director, Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor noted that the institutions remained focused on providing internet services to users for free.
She said, “With the help of our partners, we are offering high-quality internet access in heavily-trafficked areas like airports, markets, malls and bus stations throughout the country, especially in areas where there were no internet connections before.
“Even with the amazing progress on expanding mobile internet, we are finding that public Wi-Fi remains a crucial step in getting free, high quality internet to everyone,” she explained.
Josh Woodward, Director, Product Management, who spoke generally on the benefits of the high-speed Wi-Fi hotspots in public places said the collaboration will aim to solve a basic need and allow customers access to connectivity to assist them in their day-to-day businesses and activities.
He said, “Deploying Google Station in collaboration with UBA and 21st Century is an important step to connecting the next billion users. As a result of the locations enables us to be up-and-running in no time. Even more, their WiFi signal ensures connectivity to Google Station hotspots so users can do a lot of things online and be constantly connected.”
UBA Hinges Future Performance on Cost Efficiency, Improved Asset Quality
Pan African financial institution, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc has assured its local and international investors that it’s prudent focus on improved asset quality as well as the continuous adoption of strict cost efficient measures will help the bank achieve its objectives and priorities for the 2019 financial year and beyond.
This the bank has said will culminate into an institution with even stronger indices laced with the capacity to churn out strong double-digit growth in annuity-based trade services, enhanced offerings and improved customer service.
Already, the bank has instituted a number of enhanced risk management and control framework which have in no small measure contributed to its financial performances and overall balance sheet growth over the years.
The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, who noted this in a submission while presenting the bank’s 2018 full year results during an international investor/ analysts conference call on Thursday, explained that UBA’s well diversified asset book supported by stable funding structure, placed it in a premium position to perform remarkably despite the falling economic indices in its operating environment.
He said, “In spite of slow recovery in economic activities in Nigeria (our single largest market), the Group’s total assets has grown by 19.7%, driven largely by a strong deposit growth of 23%, as the drive for retail deposits continue to yield desired results. Leveraging on enhanced customer service, the Group grew retail deposits by 48%, thus strengthening the funding base and providing the foundation for lower cost of funds in 2019.
“Notably, the growth in balance sheet also partly reflects the impact of exchange rate difference between the reporting dates (2017: N331/USD vs. 2018: N359/USD), as 37% of loans and 27% of overall balance sheet is FCY-denominated. The Group maintained its appetite for a well-diversified balance sheet, with over 60% in liquid, low risk instruments.”
Uzoka explained to the investors that the bank recorded impressive growths achieved across major financial lines, recording a 48 percent year-on-year growth in retail deposits and improved CASA ratio to 77 percent.
In its results for the year end December 2018, UBA gross earnings grew by 7.0 percent to N494.0 billion, compared to N461.6 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2017. The Bank’s total assets also grew significantly by 19.7 percent to an unprecedented N4.9 trillion for the year under review
Throwing more light on the financials, he stated that gross earnings grew by 7% year-on-year, despite regulation and market conditions undermined the non-interest income line. Interest income, which contributed 73% of gross earnings, grew by 11%, driven by strong interest income on treasuries, reflecting the low-risk appetite and treasury-led strategy adopted during the year. He noted that the lower non-interest income was occasioned by market condition and regulatory impact on FX trading income, adding that growing volume on FX trading is compensating for lower margin on this business, thus reinforcing our positive growth expectation on this income line in 2019.
While speaking on the strength of the financial institution in the coming years, especially on the back of it’s African and non-African subsidiaries, Uzoka said the bank’s recent foray into key markets and economies remain a milestone that will catapult the institution in the coming years.
He said, “UBA is a unique pan-African franchise with diversified risk and earnings across fast growing African economies with sound governance, risk management and compliance culture which can be seen from our adherence to international best practice. Our robust digital banking platform through which we are leveraging technology to serve over 15 million customers in a cost efficient approach that has helped to deepen African banking penetration.
“We have the strong financial capacity backed by high capitalization (BASEL II capital ratio well above requirement) and strong liquidity, and we have worked hard towards connecting Africa and the world through our presence in key African markets and major global financial centres such as New York, London and Paris.”
Shareholders laud Transcorp Hotels Plc for Impressive performance, approve 15k per share as dividend
The Shareholders of Africa’s leading hospitality brand, Transcorp Hotels Plc, have extolled the Company for its impressive financial results for the year ended December 31, 2018. The congratulatory remarks were made at the Company’s 5th Annual General Meeting, which took place at the Congress Hall of the iconic Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.
Following the company’s 26% increase in turnover, the Shareholders have unanimously endorsed a final dividend of ₦1.14bn for the 2018 financial year. The final dividend translated to 15kobo per ordinary share, which is a 20% improvement over the 12kobo per ordinary share for 2017.
Speaking on the Company’s growth milestones, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Mr. Emmanuel N. Nnorom said “Transcorp Hotels Plc has exceeded the bar with an impressive turnover of ₦17.4billion from ₦13.8billion recorded in 2017, representing an improvement of 26%. This is an unprecedented achievement in the history of the Company. It is a further demonstration of our ability to adapt quickly to a changing business environment while keeping pace with global best standards in hospitality.” The Chairman also thanked the Shareholders for their continued support and faith in the Board and Management of the Company.
Commending the company for its overall performance, Patrick Ajudua, President, New Dimension Shareholders Association said that Transcorp Hotels Plc is an embodiment of what privatisation in Nigeria should be. He further stated that good Corporate Governance and the presence of a focused Management team who are concerned with giving returns to shareholders are some underlying factors behind the company’s continued success.
The Managing Director/CEO, Mrs. Owen Omogiafo reiterated the company’s commitment to quality and global standard customer experience, drawing on the varied international awards conferred on the Company. She said “We are redefining the hospitality landscape in Africa and positioning our continent as a preferred destination for local and international tourists. Our numerous awards and recognition are proof of this.”
On the prospects for 2019, Mrs. Omogiafo noted that “Transcorp Hotels will continue to leverage on its unique value proposition and proven strategies to exceed 2018 performance.” She further said that growth and efficiency underpinned by a strong culture of service excellence and cost optimization will drive the company.
FIRSTBANK MARCHES ON, BRINGS THE WORLD TO A STANDSTILL
Nigeria’s Premier financial institution and iconic banking Brand, First Bank of Nigeria Limited had the world stand still on Friday, 1 March 2019, as it held its symbolic flag hoisting ceremony across Nigeria and other countries where it does business. The celebratory flag hoisting officially flags off the bank’s commemoration of attaining the milestone year of 125.
The event was also to reinforce the Bank’s continuous march to greatness; a march that exemplifies tenacity, doggedness, viability, socio-economic impact and commitment across the length and breadth of Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy.
The flag hoisting ceremony was held in honour of the Bank’s illustrious journey that started 125 years ago, a journey that encompasses more than half a dozen nations across Africa, Europe and Asia; notably Ghana, DR Congo, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, China, UK and France.
The distinctively designed anniversary flag comprised the Bank’s iconic logo – the elephant head in the yellow gold dynamic shape; the figure 125 written in The Dreamer Font with the number “5” chipped out of an elephant tusk; the weaving needle; the embroidered fabrics from different cultures – Yoruba Adire, Tiv Lishi, Ghana Kente, the Scottish kilt to illustrate the diversity of a brand that transcends beyond borders and across Continents.
In the course of the event, the symbolic flag was presented to the Oba of Lagos, his Royal Highness, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, in recognition of his traditional leadership of Lagos, the State where the journey began 125 years ago; the Chief of Naval Staff, represented by Rear Admiral Adebari, in recognition of the movement across the waters by the Bank’s founders from the United Kingdom; the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, Mr Adebisi Shonubi represented by Director of Banking Operations, Dipo Fatokun as the event is not just about FirstBank but to pride the industry as one that has impacted the Nation through a century and a quarter years and lastly, the Chief Executive Officer, the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Oscar N. Onyema, signifying the Bank as the oldest listed company.
In the welcome address delivered by the Bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Adesola Adeduntan, he noted that the flag symbolises the identity, impact, permanence and reverence of a long-standing institution which predates Nigeria as a unified entity and added that FirstBank is entrenched in the nation’s development; woven into the very fabric of society, with the Bank’s involvement in every stage of national growth and development.
Reinforcing the Bank’s Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, whilst forging ahead into the future, across its business location, Adeduntan said “Supporting our host communities to promote sustainable development and of course, putting You First, in all our business activities are some of the many secrets of our long existence. We are now building for the next 125 years and beyond; purposefully blazing the trail in our industry and ensuring that we maintain our leadership position.
Expressing his goodwill message to the Bank, the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Oscar N. Onyema OON buttressed the Bank’s impact on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. He said “FirstBank is one of the very first companies to be listed on the Exchange and they have become a bellwether for us when you look at the Banking industry.
In addition Onyema identified the leadership role by the Bank in the NSE stating that “They have also produced a number of Presidents of the Council of the Exchange; from Oba Otudeko to Asabia and other captains of industry that FirstBank has offered to the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
Also speaking, Mr Adebisi Shonubi, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, represented by Director of banking operations, Dipo Fatokun lauded the bank for its achievement in the development of the financial sector and Nigeria as a whole.
Shonubi said that the history of the Central Bank of Nigeria cannot be written without the name of the Bank, FirstBank, lettered in gold, as the Bank has impacted the nation at large.
Other eminent personalities and dignitaries at the event include the former Managing Director of FirstBank and former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Joseph Sanusi; immediate past Managing Director of the Bank, Mr. Bisi Onasanya; Former Nigerian Minister of Industry and former President of the Lagos State Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Nike Akande and former Nigeria’s Minister of Communication Technology, Dr Omobola Johnson.
Horse guards parade by the Nigeria Police were at the venue to add to the glitz and glamour of the event as well the military band who were on ground to provide music throughout the event, thereby instilling the Bank’s resolve to foster its support to customers, Nigeria and other locations across Continents where the Bank operates.
The anniversary flag and flag of countries where the Bank does business were hoisted at the Bank’s headquarters to represent the nations, peoples and the diversity the Bank represents.
The 125 anniversary celebration will continue all through the month of March and through the year with other activities which include the Bell Ringing at the Nigerian Stock Exchange; a religious thanks-giving to be held in churches and mosques across Continents and locations of its business activities; the Anniversary Lecture; the Anniversary Gala Dinner & Command drama Performance by the famed Bola Austen Peters group among others. Staff and customers of the bank will also have the opportunity to participate in the milestone ceremony with donations and volunteering efforts as part of the bank’s Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability initiative, SPARK (Spreading Acts of Random Kindness)
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