Pictured from left to right: Lucie Villa, Taiwo Okwor
On 22 March 2023, the U.S Consul General to Lagos, William B. Stevens, hosted a reception in conjunction with Moody’s Investors Service, in honor of 100 Women in Finance (100WF). Isabella Burke, Vice President Relationship Management and Country Manager for Moody’s Investors Service in South Africa, and a member of 100WF’s South Africa committee, introduced Lucie Villa as a keynote speaker for the event. Lucie is the Vice President and Senior Credit Officer of Global Sovereign Risk at Moody’s Investor Service, and the lead analyst for Sub-Saharan African sovereigns and supranational issues. In her presentation looking at the Operating Climate in Nigeria, Lucie highlighted the key economic performance indicators for major economies in Africa, including Nigeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana and Kenya, and shared her analysis of the unique challenges and opportunities for private sector development in Nigeria.
Taiwo Okwor, Vice President at Africa Finance Corporation, representing 100WF’s Nigeria committee, announced that the launch event of 100WF in Nigeria will take place in April 2023. Nigeria is 100WF’s 32nd global location and will be the third location in Africa, following South Africa and Kenya, to bring the vision and global network of 100WF to aspiring finance professionals, especially women, through education, peer engagement, and impact-oriented programs.
The event, which was attended by senior leaders in the financial services sector in Nigeria, including female MDs from leading banks such as Citi, Guaranty Trust Bank, FSDH and Fidelity, as well as 100WF members, facilitated an engaging and insightful discussion.
As the event had a limited capacity, this article is a summary of some of the perspectives from the session. All the statements are the views and opinions of the author, and do not reflect the views of 100WF. All of the statements are as of 22 March 2023 and will not be updated or supplemented.
The infrastructure gap in Nigeria, in particular reliable access to electricity, is significantly higher than its peers across Africa. Nigeria experiences more than 30 power outages per month (data as of 2014), while countries like Ghana or Ethiopia experience fewer than 10.
Although there has been an overall improvement in the business dynamism since 2015, access to finance is perceived as one of the main obstacles for firms in Nigeria. However, as noted during the Q&A session, the recent Fintech evolution in Nigeria has positively contributed to solving this challenge, especially for SMEs in Nigeria.
Furthermore, female labor market participation in Nigeria is lower than Kenya, Ghana, Ethiopia and South Africa. Yet there is more female representation in middle management in Nigeria than in Ghana and Ethiopia.
When it comes to a pathway to create a more competitive and robust private sector in Nigeria, Lucie also pointed out the need for fuel subsidy reform and FX regime change. She mentioned that although there may be short-term pain and costs associated with these changes, they will provide the right incentive and structure for the market.
The event concluded with remarks from Taiwo, who encouraged the participants to stay updated on the upcoming launch event of 100WF Nigeria and future programs to empower equality in Nigeria.
The 100WF Nigeria team would like to give special thanks to the CG team, USDTDA, and Moody’s for their kind support of this successful event, and to Isabella Burke and Sarah Whitten from 100WF in South Africa.
Pictured from left to right: Saratu Kitchener, Taiwo Okwor, Consul General William B Stevens, Lucie Villa, Isabella Burke
Pictured from left to right: Lucie Villa, William Stevens, Taiwo Okwor
Pictured left to right: Consul General William B Stevens and Lucie Villa
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Olivia Gao, Verod-Kepple Africa Ventures and 100WF Nigeria committee member
Isabella Burke, Moody’s Investors Service and 100WF South Africa committee member
Taiwo Okwor, Africa Finance Corporation and 100WF Nigeria committee member
Sarah Whitten, USTDA and 100WF South Africa committee member