The Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), otherwise known as eNaira, has received positive reviews from some Nigerian editors who lauded the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the multi-layered security encryption of the digital currency.
The editors also commended the apex bank for its interventions most of which have helped in the journey to economic diversification of the nation’s economy.
So far, CBN has a basket of 37 interventions which Mr Osita Nwanisobi, spokesman of the apex bank, explained were all responses to socio-economic situations and exigencies.
The commendation came from a cross-section of Nigerian editors at the Editors Master Class with the theme, ‘Central Bank of Nigeria Interventions as Fulcrum for Economic Diversification’. The event was organised by the Centre for Financial Journalism in Lagos.
CBN interventions span healthcare, agriculture, creative industry, infrastructure and other aspects of human endeavour.
Nwanisobi said the interventions reflect the vision of the CBN governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, whom he said had pledged to run a people-centric central bank upon assumption of office.
Nwanisobi said the interventions were, therefore, a conscious effort by the CBN to ensure that all Nigerians especially the ordinary folks benefit from the economy.
“These interventions do not just happen, they are well-thought-out responses by the CBN to exigencies. You would recall that when he assumed office in 2014, Mr Emefiele promised to run a people-centric CBN and a financial system that would meet the needs of the average Nigerian,” he said.
He added that the interventions were practical efforts to diversify the economy, stressing that the CBN under Emefiele has been at the cutting edge of such initiatives to truly diversify the Nigerian economy.
In clear terms, he said the interventions were responses to market failures, stressing that no responsible central bank would fold its hands and watch the nation’s economic collapse.
Nwanisobi who traced the evolution of interventions by the CBN from 1979, said the global financial crisis of 2008/2009 threw up multiple interventions by the CBN which also reflected the responses in other countries.
He argued that but for the CBN interventions, the economy would not have grown post-global crisis era.
“Interventions are necessary. Without interventions where would the Nigerian economy be by now?” Nwanisobi asked rhetorically.
“Who would have thought that a time would come in Nigeria and the rest of the world that economies would experience total shutdown as we experienced in the case of COVID-19? Just imagine what would have happened if CBN did not respond with well-planned intervention in the containment of COVID-19 and the attendant financial crisis,” the CBN spokesman said.
Mr Olabimtan Adebowale of the Development Finance Department of CBN in his presentation outlined the benefits of the various interventions which he described as “development finance interventions”, meaning they are well-planned interventions targeted at meeting specific needs all aimed at growing the economy and improving the living standards of the people”.
He said the interventions were meant to increase lending to high-impact and employment-elastic sectors of the economy, diversify the economic base, create jobs and improve macroeconomic stability. Other purposes of the interventions include encouraging exports and conserving foreign exchange reserves, expanding output of agriculture, manufacturing and services sectors, providing access to affordable credit, and boosting the capacity of MSMEs in priority sectors of the economy.
According to Adebowale, one of the interventions aimed at boosting local production and creating employment is the new financial instrument titled, ‘The 100 for 100 PPP – Policy on Production and Productivity’, which will be anchored by the Development Finance Department under the direct supervision of the CBN governor. Under the policy, the CBN will advertise, screen, scrutinize and financially support 100 targeted private sector companies in 100 days.
The programme commenced on November 1, 2021, and will roll over every 100 days with a new set of 100 companies.
On the eNaira, which was launched on October 25 by President Muhammadu Buhari to complement the physical naira and help deepen the digital economy space, Mr Yusuf Abduljelil in his presentation, said Nigeria was the first African nation to introduce a central bank digital currency and one of the early birds in the world.
During the master class, editors were able to onboard seamlessly to the eNaira platform. On the issue of hacking and vulnerability to compromise by cyber crooks, the CBN official explained that the eNaira platform has enough layers of encryption and integrity that insulate it from hackers.
Nigeria is currently among the top nations of the world with growing and robust e-payment systems. The eNaira will further boost the nation’s rating in e-transactions.