UBA’s presence in the Middle East represents the deepening connectivity between Africa and the Gulf as well as the bank’s growing global ambitions. Indeed, UBA, which began its expansion plans out of Nigeria in the early 2000s, is the first Nigerian-based bank to open shop in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
In a wide-ranging interview with The Africa Report and Jeune Afrique, Elumelu discusses the bank’s future, the importance of extending financial services across Africa and how the government in Nigeria can support business and investment for a sustainable future.
Aside from his position as UBA chairman, Elumelu is also the founder of Heirs Holding, an African investment company with interests in financial services, energy production, oil and gas, agriculture, real estate and hospitality; chairman at Transcorp PLC, Nigeria’s largest conglomerate; and founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation, an organisation that seeks to catalyse entrepreneurship across Africa.
UBA was the first Nigerian bank to expand into the continent and you have just opened a subsidiary in the UAE. What are the next steps in the bank’s development?
Tony Elumelu: UBA is an African Bank. We operate in 20 African countries – 11 francophone countries and 9 anglophone countries – which illustrates our pan-African focus. We consider ourselves an economic powerhouse that can bring Africa together and connect us to the rest of the world through our presence in the UK, France, the US and now UBA Dubai, which will open this week to support business between Africa and the Gulf.