Africa Finance Corporation (“AFC” or “the Corporation”), the leading infrastructure development finance institution in Africa, has announced the appointment of Samaila D. Zubairu as the Corporation’s 3rd President & Chief Executive Officer, succeeding Andrew Alli who comes to the end of his tenor, having successfully served in the position since 2008.
Samaila Zubairu is a distinguished Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and an accomplished Infrastructure development finance specialist with over 29 years of professional experience.
He is the CEO of Africapital Management Limited, in which position he established a joint venture with Old Mutual’s African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM) to develop the Nigerian Infrastructure Investment Fund1(NIIF1) for infrastructure private equity across West Africa. He also recently coordinated the US$300million acquisition of Eko Electricity Distribution Plc.
He was the pioneer CFO for Dangote Cement Plc, during which he launched Africa’s largest syndicated project finance facility for a local corporate to actualize the Obajana Cement project and managed the watershed unbundling of Dangote Industries Limited to listed subsidiaries on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. He has led finance transactions for over US$3billion covering: green-field project finance facilities, acquisitions, corporate transformation initiatives, privatization and equity capital market transactions.
Samaila is an Eisenhower Fellow and sits on the Eisenhower Fellowship’s Global Network Council as well as the President’s Advisory Council. He is also an Advisory Board member for KSE Africa a leading Operations and Management provider of captive power plants in the mining sector of Botswana and Nigeria and is the Chairman of MDSA Nigeria Limited, a fintech company providing micro loans across sub-Saharan Africa. Samaila is the Independent Director and Chairman Statutory Audit Committee as well as a member of Finance and General-Purpose and Establishment and Governance Committees of Aiico Insurance Plc. He also serves as an Independent Director and Chairman of the Finance Committee for New Nigeria Commodity Marketing Company.
The appointment of Mr. Zubairu follows a six-month search process that saw over 100 candidates apply for the role. Mr.Zubairu will formally take the post imminently.
Dr. Okwu J. Nnanna, Chairman of AFC said: “On behalf of the Corporation, I am delighted to welcome Samaila Zubairu to AFC. In Samaila, we have identified an individual with the exceptional qualities across deal origination, execution, and capital raising that will continue to facilitate AFC’s ability to deliver transformational change through infrastructure investment as it moves into a new era.
“His track record of operational excellence will be of huge benefit to AFC and all its stakeholders as we build on a decade that has seen AFC become amarket leaderin Africa’s infrastructure space, positively impacting millions of lives every day.I would like to thank Andrew Alli, who over the last decade has turned AFC from a start-up into the world class institution that it is today. His departure is truly our loss, and I am confident in saying I speak for all stakeholders to AFC in wishing Andrew the very best in his future endeavours.”
Mr. Samaila Zubairu, AFC’s incoming President & CEO commented on the announcement: “Africa Finance Corporation is one of the most dynamic organisations on the continent. In the last decade, we have seen the organisation grow its balance sheet by a remarkable 400%, produce competitive returns, whilst transforming African economies through innovative infrastructure development and financing. I am therefore immensely humbled by the distinct honour of this appointment to lead such a distinguished organisation”.
“As the incoming President & CEO, I am confident of AFC’s market position as being best placed to surmount Africa’s multi-sectoral infrastructure challenges, and no doubt this success has been achieved in no small part, because of AFC’s outgoing President & CEO, Mr. Andrew Alli and his team of exceptional professionals. I therefore look forward to joining AFC’s highly reputable team, and together, enhancing AFC’s position as an extremely capable project partner, able to deliver sustainable development projects across the Continent.”
Mr. Andrew Alli, AFC’s outgoing President & CEO also commented on the announcement: “Serving at the helm of AFC has been the highest privilege of my career. However, having served my tenor, I am leaving assured that in Samaila Zubairu, the Corporation will gain a truly confident self-starter and an industry heavy-weight ideally suited to lead AFC into the next chapter of its growth story. I wish him, and the AFC family, all the success for the future.
“As I depart, I am proud to look back on all the things we have been able to achieve across the width and breadth of the Continent, none of which would have been possible without the incredible colleagues I have been honoured to work with, the shareholders who gave me the opportunity to serve and the Board, which has given me support and direction. I shall remain forever grateful to all of them.”
U.S. inauguration turns poet Amanda Gorman into best seller
WASHINGTON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The president’s poet woke up a superstar on Thursday, after a powerful reading at the U.S. inauguration catapulted 22-year-old Amanda Gorman to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list.
Hours after Gorman’s electric performance at the swearing-in of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, her two books – neither out yet – topped Amazon.com’s sales list.
“I AM ON THE FLOOR MY BOOKS ARE #1 & #2 ON AMAZON AFTER 1 DAY!” Gorman, a Los Angeles resident, wrote on Twitter.
Gorman’s debut poetry collection ‘The Hill We Climb’ won top spot in the online retail giant’s sale charts, closely followed by her upcoming ‘Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem’.
While poetry’s popularity is on the up, it remains a niche market and the overnight adulation clearly caught Gorman short.
“Thank you so much to everyone for supporting me and my words. As Yeats put it: ‘For words alone are certain good: Sing, then’.”
Gorman, the youngest poet in U.S. history to mark the transition of presidential power, offered a hopeful vision for a deeply divided country in Wednesday’s rendition.
“Being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it,” Gorman said on the steps of the U.S. Capitol two weeks after a mob laid siege and following a year of global protests for racial justice.
“We will not march back to what was. We move to what shall be, a country that is bruised, but whole. Benevolent, but bold. Fierce and free.”
The performance stirred instant acclaim, with praise from across the country and political spectrum, from the Republican-backing Lincoln Project to former President Barack Obama.
“Wasn’t @TheAmandaGorman’s poem just stunning? She’s promised to run for president in 2036 and I for one can’t wait,” tweeted former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
A graduate of Harvard University, Gorman says she overcame a speech impediment in her youth and became the first U.S. National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017.
She has now joined the ranks of august inaugural poets such as Robert Frost and Maya Angelou.
Her social media reach boomed, with her tens of thousands of followers ballooning into a Twitter fan base of a million-plus.
“I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise! Brava Brava, @TheAmandaGorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I,” tweeted TV host Oprah Winfrey.
Gorman’s books are both due out in September.
Third on Amazon’s best selling list was another picture book linked to politics and projecting hope: ‘Ambitious Girl’ by Vice-President Kamala Harris’ niece, Meena Harris.
(Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)
Why brands harnessing the power of digital are winning in this evolving business landscape
By Justin Pike, Founder and Chairman, MYPINPAD
Delivery of intuitive, secure, personalised, and frictionless user experiences has long been table stakes in digital commerce, well before the era of COVID-19. As businesses harness the revolutionary power of digital technologies, they have pursued large-scale change to adapt to evolving consumer preferences (some more successfully than others, but that’s a blog for another day). Digital transformation is a term we hear repeatedly, and it looks different for each organisation, but essentially, it’s about utilising technology and data to digitise, automate, innovate and improve processes and the customer experience across the entire business.
As I said, this was already well underway but then came 2020 and no industry escaped the disruption of the coronavirus outbreak, which has had an indelible impact on businesses performance, operations, and revenue. Regardless of whether the impact of COVID has been very positive or very challenging, it has forced organisations globally to re-evaluate and re-orient strategies to adapt.
As lockdowns and pandemic-related restrictions continue to change daily life, this raises the question of how we can balance a dramatic shift to digital and the benefits it brings, while ensuring business continuity and innovation both during and post-COVID, and protecting everyone against fraud?
Digital is an essential survival tool, and even more so in a COVID world
No one could have predicted the dramatic digital pivot that has taken place over this year. Indeed, within weeks of the COVID outbreak cash usage in the UK dropped by around 50%. Digital solutions including delivery applications, contactless payments, mobile commerce, online and mobile banking have become essential components of a touchless customer experience in the era of social distancing. It’s no longer just about an enhanced and superior customer experience, it’s also about health, safety and survival.
In store, businesses have benefited from contactless payments enabling faster throughput and reduced need for consumers to touch payment terminals (therefore requiring greater cleaning, which degrades the hardware much faster). Mastercard reported a 40% increase in contactless payments – including tap-to-pay and mobile pay – during the first quarter of the year as the global pandemic worsened. Digital has also become an essential sales channel for many B2C brands. Where brick and mortar stores have been required to close, digital commerce enables continuity of customer relationships and revenue. This channel also provides brands with rich customer data, which can be used to enhance and personalise the customer experience and typically results in greater levels of engagement and uplifts in revenue.
Industry forecasts estimate that worldwide spending on the technologies and services enabling digital transformation will reach GBP 1.8 trillion in 2023 – a clear indication that the process represents a long-term investment and a global commitment to digital-first strategy. The key point here is that digital brings significant benefits, and regardless of COVID, is here to stay.
The challenges that rapid digital transformation brings to businesses
Regardless of whether businesses are operating in developed or less-developed economies, these times of crisis have levelled the playing field in the sense that all businesses are facing similar issues. Access to products and supplies, maintaining customer relationships, accelerating sales for some and declining sales for others, health and hygiene are just a few of the unique challenges brought about by COVID.
Many businesses in physical environments have had to swiftly implement changes to significantly reduce safety risks for staff and customers, such as contactless payments, mobile ordering and delivery options. But with these changes come a host of other benefits of digitisation, such as faster transactions, and reduced human error at the point-of-sale.
The reliance on technology, however, can also expose organisations and consumers to certain vulnerabilities. In particular, the risks of fraud and cybercrime have dramatically increased since the onset of the pandemic as scammers have taken advantage of digital technologies to target both businesses and individuals.
As a McKinsey report illustrates, new levels of sophistication in the activities of fraudsters have placed more pressure on companies that have been previously slow to go digital, bringing “into sharp relief how vulnerable companies really are”, and damaging the financial health of small and large businesses. In fact, the Bottomline 2020 Business Payments Barometer reveals that only one in 10 small businesses across the UK report recovering more than 50% of losses due to fraud.
But take these stats with a grain of salt. While it is important to be aware of the risks and challenges this new business landscape brings, it’s equally as important to have a lens firmly across your own business, industry and audience, and to identify the changes you can make internally to mitigate risk as well as improve your customer experience. Where can you make some quick wins? Do you have the right skillsets internally to achieve what you need to achieve? What technology is out there that will enable your business goals? There are tech companies like MYPINPAD that are making huge strides in software development, which will transform businesses globally.
A digital world post-COVID
Almost a year in, the line between business success and failure remains fragile. However, an ongoing transition towards greater digitisation will be the difference between survival and the alternative.
There is a wide range of initiatives businesses can implement to weather this storm. If we look at the space MYPINPAD operates within, secure digital consumer authentication is crucial to the ongoing success and security of not only financial products but also identification and verification across a range of different industry verticals. Shifting the authentication of consumers securely onto mobile devices enables businesses to completely reshape their customer experiences. By bringing together a more seamless, frictionless customer experience, accessibility, privacy, security and access to consumer data, businesses are able to drive digital transformation across day-to-day activities.
Against this backdrop, software with stronger security standards continue to play an ever more vital role in supporting society, protecting consumers and businesses from the increase in risks that rapid digitisation brings. Already, merchants can deploy PIN on Mobile technology from companies like MYPINPAD, onto their smart devices to speed up the digitisation process many are now tackling.
Essentially, opening up universal payments and authentication methods that feel familiar, for both online and face-to-face transactions, will be key to opening up a world of possibilities when it comes to redefining how businesses engage with consumers.
Brexit responsible for food supply problems in Northern Ireland, Ireland says
LONDON (Reuters) – Food supply problems in Northern Ireland are due to Brexit because there are now a certain amount of checks on goods going between Britain and Northern Ireland, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said.
British ministers have sought to play down the disruption of Brexit in recent days.
“The supermarket shelves were full before Christmas and there are some issues now in terms of supply chains and so that’s clearly a Brexit issue,” Coveney told ITV.
The Northern Irish protocol means there are “a certain amount of checks on goods coming from GB into Northern Ireland and that involves some disruption,” he said.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Tom Hogue)
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