Nigerian banks’ total assets rose by ₦11.15 trillion in one year to ₦64.32 trillion as of the end of April. Figures obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) revealed that the assets of the lending institutions had hit ₦53.17 trillion in the corresponding period of 2021. The 2022 numbers showed a 21 percent increase over the period. According to a personal statement of a member of the Monetary Policy Committee, Kingsley Obiora, which was released by the CBN, the growth was driven by balances with CBN/banks, OMO bills, and credit to the real sector of the economy. He said, “The banking system remained sound, stable and resilient. Total assets of the banking industry grew by 20.97 percent from ₦53.17 trillion in April 2021 to ₦64.32 trillion in April 2022, driven by balances with CBN/banks, OMO bills, and credit to the real sector of the economy. “As a result, the total flow of credit to the economy increased to ₦26.10 trillion in April 2022 from ₦21.45 trillion in April 2021, representing an increase of 21.66 percent.” He said some sectors with the increased credit included: manufacturing, consumer credit, general commerce, information and communication, and agriculture.

Airtel Africa added banking services to its portfolio of Smartcash Payment Service Bank services in Nigeria, building on a domestic remittance-based set-up launched in May as it seeks to enhance financial inclusion in the country. At a launch event in Lagos, Airtel detailed the bank will now provide services including international remittance alongside issuing debit and prepaid cards. It said that Smartcash Payment Service Bank aims to bridge the urban-rural financial divide in Nigeria, the operator’s largest market in Africa. Airtel Africa CEO Segun Ogunsanya added that the launch will bring “millions of people” into the “financial community”, along with delivering “convenience to those already financially included”. Ogunsanya noted that driving digital and financial inclusion in Africa was a “core business focus” for Airtel. “We are now ready for take-off. Platforms and systems are ready and tested, staff have been onboarded and trained, and distribution platforms have been set up,” he said. Airtel received a full Payment Service Bank licence from CBN in April and aims to expand the Smartcash Payment Service Bank beyond Nigeria in the coming months.

Last week, the leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party in the Senate took a step further by involving President Muhammadu Buhari in appeasing aggrieved APC senators. This came as the leadership was not satisfied with the intervention made by the National Chairman of the party in stopping the aggrieved Senators from dumping the party. Specifically, the Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia North), took the aggrieved senators to President Muhammadu Buhari for required assurance on interests protection. Speaking on the outcome of the meeting through a signed statement, Senator Kalu said the aggrieved Senators would no longer pursue defection from the APC. “Earlier this afternoon, I led the 22 aggrieved senators and members of the APC to President Muhammad Buhari, GCFR. Our meeting with Mr President was successful and the issue of decamping from our party has been laid to rest,” he said. However, after the said meeting, one of the aggrieved Senators, Godiya Akwashiki from Nasarawa State who lost out in the primary election, resigned his membership of the party in his ward in Nasarawa North. If Akwashiki follows up his APC membership withdrawal on the floor of the Senate after resuming from Sallah break, APC membership in the Senate would have depleted from 61 to 60.

ECOWAS has lifted economic and financial sanctions against Mali’s military government after it vowed to hold elections in February 2024. The move was welcomed by many Malians who have been struggling under the restrictions and the global rise in fuel and food costs. On Sunday evening, regional bloc ECOWAS announced the immediate lifting of economic and financial sanctions against Mali following a summit in Accra, Ghana. The sanctions, imposed in January after military leaders delayed elections until 2026, were lifted after leaders announced a new election timetable in June with elections in 2024. The economic sanctions prohibited the trade of goods and closed borders between Mali and its neighbours, with exceptions for food, fuel and medicine. Though fuel was not subject to sanctions, gasoline prices have risen in Mali recently as they have worldwide. With the lifting of sanctions, ECOWAS member states’ ambassadors will be able to return to Bamako. During the summit, ECOWAS leaders also agreed to a 24-month transition to civilian rule in neighbouring Burkina Faso, which has also been under military rule since January. Burkina Faso and Mali have both seen increasing Islamist violence under military rule.