Interesting interview with Cecilia Ibru, CEO of Nigeria’s Oceanic Bank International, in the latest McKinsey Quarterly (free subscription). Among other salient points:

“Nigeria has not yet developed into an industrial economy, because we still depend on imports. But it’s not as if we can’t produce things in Nigeria. The downturn might be just the opportunity for us to work a little bit harder and not be so dependent on oil and gas. We need to do everything in our power to produce more and to promote the growth of businesses outside the oil sector. If we can get that right, the economy will boom, because the average man on the street wants to have his own business—he just doesn’t have the enabling infrastructure to support it,” says Ibru.

Oceanic has risen since 1990 from a small, family owned operation to a publicly listed firm that is now one of Nigeria’s top five banks by assets. Eyeing the future, Ibru only sees further growth. “In five to ten years, we expect to be a well-known, established bank beyond this subregion of Africa—Nigeria first, the west coast of Africa next, and then central Africa,” she projects. But the firm made headlines for the wrong reasons last week, however, when it announced a 29% fall in net profit for its first half-year to the end of June, based primarily on a combination of loan losses, interest rate contraction and operating cost rises, speculated one analyst.

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