ICT Clinic (Punch Newspaper)

Expanding CBN’s creative industry financing initiative [ICT Clinic]

One of the interesting aspects of social media and other instant messaging platforms is the increasing attempt at replacing more credible sources of news and information. Many of us can attest to the fact that each morning, we receive many messages informing us of one new development or the other, and it is becoming very difficult to know what is true or false. On a fateful morning, I received an update from a friend, showing a circular from the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The first thing I did as part of my personal online verification process was to reach a top official at the CBN in order to verify the authenticity of the circular because in today’s digital world, it is pretty easy to make false news go viral, particularly in our current situation, where there seems to be some increased levels of desperation for survival. He confirmed that it was indeed true; so, I went online to check and I saw various publications on it.

The circular stated that the creative industries that could apply were fashion, information technology, movie production, distribution of movies, music and software engineering students, who could also apply for student loan. It further reads, “Software engineering students can get a loan of up to N3m, N30m for movie production, N500m for movie distribution, cover your rental/service fees for fashion and Information Technology business, cover your training fees, equipment fees and rental/service fees for music business.”

Honestly, I wish the CBN would have gone on to explain the rationale behind the industries selected and the expected outcome. So, for example, how come software engineering loan is expected to be paid back in three years while fashion, music, movie production and distribution expected pay back time is a maximum of 10 years?

Also, there is a need for clarity; when the CBN and Bankers’ Committee mentioned IT, are they referring to mobile app developers, hardware, infrastructure deployment, data analysts, software testers or government contractors who specialise in delivering IT projects, particular in Abuja? Without this clarification, I’d say this policy further drives the narrative that the entertainment industry should be where all our youths should turn to.

Anyway, irrespective of the issues I have raised, I still think this initiative is a welcome development, provided it is done transparently. For too long, I have wondered why the banks are not actively playing in the technology space. I have always thought that there were ways for them to reach out to the ecosystem.

A while back, when I had the opportunity to interact with the Managing Director, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Segun Agbaje, I asked him, “Is there no way banks can create something like an SPV that will see increased investment activities in the technology ecosystem?” He responded, explaining why it will be difficult for banks to get involved and how regulation prevents a lot of things from happening. I listened but was not convinced. I am happy that, finally, a way has been found and it is hoped that people who truly need this support will be the ones to have access to it.

My recommendation would be for techies and creatives to take advantage of the opportunity. However, I think there are few areas of the initiative that should be reviewed urgently.

  1. Software engineering student loan

It beats my imagination to note that we have chosen to remain a ‘now-now’ economy, which is why I have often stated that until our banks change their models, the Nigerian economy may not — Finish Reading on the Punch