2021 Nigeria SDGs Fintech Hackathon Themed: “Naija Fintech Hackathon”
REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE 2021 NIGERIA SDGs FINTECH HACKATHON ON THE 26TH OF MARCH, 2021
I am delighted to join you at the official launch of the Nigeria SDGs Fintech Hackathon and I think has also been aptly named the “Naija Fintech Hackathon.”
The organizers, Financial Centre for Sustainability Lagos (FC4S Lagos), Nigeria Climate Innovation Centre (NCIC), Access Bank and AfricaHacks deserve our commendation for their vision in developing this initiative. This is a creative initiative in and of itself because it seeks to place the vast innovative capacity of Fintech at the centre of the critical synergy between accelerating the achievement of the SDGs, but using the powerful tools offered by the green economy.
This is an important preoccupation today. We are no longer arguing now about the symbiotic relationship between poverty and climate change, but the ultimate irony is that the poorer countries of the world are the least polluters, but probably the worst sufferers of the effects of climate change.
It’s also evident that poverty simply disempowers the capacity to deal adequately with the deleterious consequences of climate change. So addressing poverty by way of accelerating the achievement of the SDGs is crucial in resolving the climate crisis and resolving the climate crisis itself is crucial in the war against poverty. So, I think that this synergy is so crucial and glad to see how the organizers have put this together very creatively.
But in the context of Nigeria, there are certain things I think we can do and call for our attention. Most of it is already being addressed in one shape or form by the innovators centre and their collaborators and FC4s.
For example, we need to expand the scope of sustainable farming and farming techniques. This has become crucial because we realise that now with deforestation and all the issues with farmer-herder clashes, there is a need for us to look more closely at how to be more creative with the farming technique, engage our farmers, educate our farmers, use more extension workers more actively. And I found this to be the case especially as we are trying to implement an aspect of our Economic sustainability plan.
So, we have to first find out where these new farmers were and we had to geo-tag them to their farms. But more importantly, we had to get credit to them one way or the other, because many of them are in far-flung areas of the country.
We had to give them not just credit, but also information that they would need for choosing the right type of fertilizer, and other farm input. And we found that there was obviously a problem there especially reaching these individuals with credit was a problem.
But I think that with innovations, especially some of the great Fintech innovations, we are beginning to find out, even the unreachable parts can be reached with credit.
Sometimes, it is amazing how these farmers especially in the hinterland, many of whom are illiterate, are actually able to relate very quickly to Fintech and to all of the various innovations around Fintech and access credit and access money directly.
I am not so sure how many followed the story of a village in Kwara State where the women were part of one of the Social Investment Programme (the conditional cash transfers which are given to individuals in the poorest communities in the country.) So, these women in two villages in Kwara State would get N5,000 per household, put money together to build a community school.
In another case, they put money together to buy themselves an ambulance moving especially pregnant women who were at the point of delivery from their homes to hospitals.
But the interesting part of this is that these were previously unreachable places. In fact, the Governor of Kwara State, (when he was talking about his visit to these communities later on) found it so incredible that reaching these places was so difficult, yet, money reached them regularly.
It was because some Fintech company working with the Social Investment Programme was able to devise the means of getting this money across to these women in these villages.
So, there is no question at all that Fintech is crucial and is going to be even be more crucial especially as we pursue goals of financial inclusion and trying to hitherto, unreachable parts of the country. There is no way of addressing the issues of poverty and all the issues around the SDGs if we are not able to reach those that need to be reached with credit.
The other point which I wanted to make is with the respect to containing deforestation, especially by our moves currently to move to cleaner energy rather than using firewood for cooking and all of that (which of course is standard in many places across the country and especially in the hinterland).
The point now is that we are trying to move to Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG), and cleaner fuels. But how do you reach these places? How do they buy the LPGs? The entire value chain and the entire supply chain requires somebody who is able to facilitate the movement of money quickly and this is the sort of thing we hope the Fintech company would be able to do especially as we expand the scope of this transition to clean energy and LPGs all across the country.
The final point is with respect to our 5million solar connections. I am sure that some would be familiar with that aspect of the Economic Sustainability Plan in response to the fall out to the COVID-19 pandemic.
So, we decided that one of the key things to do is to kill several birds with one stone, which would be this massive 5million solar connections across the country, especially in the areas where there is no electricity currently. This will include off-grid as well as solar home systems.
This is incredibly powerful for our efforts at resolving the climate crisis; transitioning to cleaner energy, but also it introduces the tremendous opportunity for Fintech companies, for payments systems, and in a lot of these areas, the only way to get payment off users of these solar systems is by some creative Fintech company being able to manage that whole process, collect monies in some case, and in many cases, payout to owners.
I think that there are tremendous opportunities there and this is something we are starting now. Several companies have already shown some interest, but it is huge and it is just the first phase.
As we address climate concerns, there are major opportunities for Fintech companies and their creativity is going to be very crucial here, not just in the regular making payment, but also in being able to give credit to those who require credit, especially to many of these areas where obviously they would not have anything like collateral that your regular bank will be asking for. There are tremendous opportunities around this and just thinking about it is very interesting and I’m so happy to see that we are going to be seeing a number of young people today presenting their ideas to us.
I think this is an incredible opportunity to really identify those ideas that would be useful going forward and just to encourage others that the scope of all of this is huge. There’s so much room to play and there’s so much room to do stuff.
On this note, I wish to formally launch the Nigeria SDGs Hackathon and to enjoin all entrance to aspire to achieve their dreams and take advantage of the exciting opportunities that abound in the tech systems.
I am glad to have this opportunity to speak to this very distinguished gathering.
Thank you very much for your kind attention.