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Business leaders to deliberate on financial sector

Financial sector business leaders are going to deliberate on the challenges and opportunities in the Ethiopian financial sector.

I-Capital Institute in collaboration with the Public Finance Enterprise Agency, Addis Ababa University and Jimma University is organizing the first Annual East African Finance Summit in Addis Ababa to be held at the UNECA on December 14-15, 2016. The theme of the conference would be building competitive, cooperative and innovative finance sector in East Africa with emphasis on Ethiopia.  

CEO of I-Capital Africa Institute, Gemechu Waktola (PhD), told The Reporter that the forum would look at the Ethiopian financial sector readiness for liberalization. “With the accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), Ethiopia would eventually liberalize its financial sector. The forum would discuss what should be done before liberalizing the financial sector,” Gemechu said.  Academics would see if the Ethiopian finance sector would be competitive if the sector is liberalized.

I-Capital Institute conducted a rough assessment on the Ethiopian financial sector. Gemechu said there is a huge unbanked society in Ethiopia. “What should be done to bring these societies to banks? What should be done to create a cashless society? Banks are investing heavily on banking technologies but they are not using the technologies efficiently. What should banks do to maximize the benefits of banking technologies? These are some of the long list of questions that would be addressed at the forum.

Gemechu said there are limited financial services in the country’s finance sector. “Access to finance, in adequate trained manpower, limited use of banking technologies, absence of long-term sustainable business strategy and lack of cooperation are some of the challenges the finance sector is facing,” Gemechu said.   “The local banks seem to be in a comfort zone. They are protected. Their prime concern is to pay hefty dividends for their shareholders. But they need to have a long-term business strategy that would make them competitive when the sector is liberalized.”  He said that while there is enough market there is lack of cooperation among the banks.

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According to Gemechu, the finance conference would focus on access to finance, global competitiveness, human resource development, merger and acquisition, WTO and financial sector liberalization, migration to cashless society, governance, regulation and legal enforcement, missing financial institutions and IT Security and disaster recovery.

Human capital is another critical issue in the financial sector. Staff turnover is high among banks because one bank lures away trained staff from another bank. Human capital development would also be a topic of discussion during the finance conference.    

A high profile panel discussion would also be held among industry leaders, policymakers, regulators, researchers and representatives of foreign banks.

The organizers anticipate attracting more than 150 delegates from local banks, insurance companies, government organizations, financial consultants, technology manufacturers and suppliers, foreign banks and international financial intuitions. Pre conference training would be held on service innovation and building internal competency. Exhibitors (banking technology suppliers and others) would display their products and services.

I-Capital Institute has launched Annual East Africa Cement, Concrete and Energy Summit last March. It is also under preparation to start another annual summit on human capital development.      

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