Nigeria’s economic challenges provide opportunities for innovation – GMD Access Bank Plc


The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank Plc, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, has said the current economic challenges in Nigeria and other economies across the world present opportunities for new discoveries and innovations.
Wigwe, said this at the 2015 Access Conference held in Lagos on Thursday with the theme: “Leading in a transformational world – the imperative of innovation.”
The Access Bank boss pointed out that there were significant opportunities, which everyone, especially the youths must grab to contribute positively to the development of the world.
While noting that the Nigerian environment has its challenges, he expressed optimism that there are opportunities to create tenacious entrepreneurs, courageous politicians and innovative chief executive officers.
“All these people are individuals who cannot rest on their laurels, particularly as the line between business and politics becomes blurred and technology begins to change our entire world beyond our recognition.
“Innovators change the world with a very simple question: What if? What if our literacy rate in Nigeria is 100 per cent? What if all Nigerians had access to education? What if the fight against malaria, HIV was won? What if our infrastructure enables economic success and opportunity for all Nigerians? More interesting, what if the banking industry could contribute to all these lofty goals by providing the best and cheapest services for all Nigerians?” he said.
According to Wigwe, the question about leadership and innovation is more pertinent in Nigeria today.
The successful democratic election in the country this year, he said marked the momentous change and achievement for Nigeria’s political system, adding that the smooth transition was a validation of democracy not just in Nigeria, but across Africa.
“Leadership in a transformation world, not only benefits from innovation, but it demands it. At Access Bank, we recognise that innovation is key to our business and of course to the financial services industry. What we have done in Access Bank, is to use innovation to turn threats into opportunity and offer excellent services to our customers,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, said in the world today, transformation is taking place at an increasing rate in every sphere of the human endeavour.
Technology has now so developed, he said, noting that just over two decades ago, mobile phones were unknown in Africa.
“Today, there are over 160 million mobile lines in Nigeria alone. It is a fact that we now use mobile phones in doing everything and in transferring monies across the world. As the theme of today’s event states, we must continue to innovate. This is what would bring about the transformation leadership in the world we find ourselves.  Those who refuse to innovate would stagnate at best, or worst vegetate.
“We live in an era where our ability to change the society depends very much on how we are able to bring on innovative ideas to bear on our responsibilities. In Lagos state, we have decided to take the bull of transformational leadership by the horn. We have created the office of transformation, innovation and creativity to champion of vision of transforming the way we do business in the state,” he added.
Also at the conference were Facebook co-founder, Chris Hughes; Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak; Air Asia founder and CEO, Tony Fernandes; founder and CEO of, Chinedu Echeruo; co-founder of Yudala, Nnamdi Ekeh, among others.