Prof. Viola Onwuliri, the Minister of State I for Foreign Affairs, says Nigerian investors should take advantage of the low interest loans from ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) to grow their businesses.
The minister made the call in Owerri on Thursday at the sensitisation programme on the benefits of the bank, organised for investors and businessmen and women in the Southeast zone.
Onwuliri said that the bank was established to use its unique expertise to promote economic growth in the public and private sectors within West Africa.
She said that EBID was an effective instrument for poverty alleviation, wealth creation and job promotion for the wellbeing of the people of the region.
“This sensitisation programme is aimed at bringing to the attention of the stakeholders the opportunities the ECOWAS bank can offer in terms of the loan portfolio of the bank,’’ she said.
In his speech, the Minister of State II for Foreign Affairs, Dr Nurudeen Muhammed, said that EBID was an essential aspect of ECOWAS integration agenda, which member states were expected to benefit from.
Muhammed emphasised that the country had remained a strategic member of the economic community and urged Nigerians to become more interested in accessing the abundant opportunities offered by the bank.
The president of the bank, Mr Bashir Ifo, said that the bank was meant to finance ECOWAS and New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) projects.
Ifo enumerated the areas of intervention by the bank to include transportation, energy, telecommunications, basic infrastructure, industry, education, health, environment and natural resources.
He said that EBID had financed projects in Nigeria like Intelcom Phase A, rehabilitation of the Federal Super Phosphate Fertiliser Company, TINAPA Free Zone, expansion/rehabilitation of Lina Oil Mills and Radisson Blue Hotel.
Imo Deputy Governor Jude Agbaso, in his remark said the present administration in the state was interested in investments and commended the ministry for organising the programme.
Agbaso expressed the state government’s readiness to partner the bank in its bid to help Nigerian investors to grow.
He called for the establishment of the bank’s outlet in the Southeast to enhance easy access to its facilities.
The regional bank is located in Lome, Benin Republic, with no other branch anywhere.
Giving an overview of the bank, the Vice-President of EBID, Mr Ernest Komenan, noted that the Nigerian business community and investors had accessed only about 4 per cent of the entire loans granted by the bank since it began operation in 2004.
Komenan said that the situation had necessitated the planned sensitisation programme for the six geo-political zones of the country to encourage Nigerians to borrow from the bank.
The bank grants a minimum of 45 million dollars at between 9 per cent and 12 per cent interest.