The African banking sector has an opportunity to respond to the economic challenges emerging from Covid-19 pandemic by playing a leading role to make societies more resilient and responsive, President Paul Kagame has said. Kagame made the remarks while delivering a virtual keynote address at the 14th Annual Banking and Finance Conference organised by The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN). The summit themed; “Economic Recovery, Inclusion and Transformation: The Role of banking and finance,” is looking into the need to reposition the banking and finance industry as catalyst for economic recovery, inclusive growth, and transformation. With the Covid-19 pandemic affecting every aspect of the economies across the continent, Kagame said that it presents an opportunity for Africa’s banks to play a leading role in making societies more resilient and more responsive to the needs of the public. Indeed, Africa has the resources to fund its own economic growth and reduce dependence on external resources. President Kagame | 14th Annual Banking and Finance Conference. pic.twitter.com/kzqciVnRiX — Presidency | Rwanda (@UrugwiroVillage) September 14, 2021 Kagame noted that among the unique roles of banking include efficient capital allocation of capital. “Whatever affects business, affects banking. Financial services are the engine of private sector development. Banks are crucial for allocating capital wisely and productively. Indeed, Africa has resources to fund its own economic growth and reduce dependence on external resources,” he said He tipped the banking sector on the need to further integrate technology to stay competitive as well as increase financial inclusion and access. “Banking can’t just be a service for elites,” he noted. Banks also have an opportunity to drive Pan-African trade and investment with the African Continental Free Trade Area that is currently operational. This, he said, will see banks play a role to cement economic integration across the continent. The sector, he said, could offer a lesson to governments on the importance of integrity, good customer service and trust. President Kagame said that the convergence point between governments and the banking sector was an enabling environment and regulation that allows innovation. “Our role as government is to maintain good enabling environments, protecting shareholders and consumers, while allowing for innovation. We expect you to keep challenging us in this role,” he said. The event is an annual knowledge, thought sharing, and solution-based forum for all stakeholders: policymakers, regulators, operators, service providers, members of the academia, and clients in the Financial Services Industry. It aims at providing a medium for practitioners within the industry and beyond to share experiences, exchange ideas and exchange insights on contemporary issues affecting the sector and the economy.