The Role Of Investment Bankers In Africa

Excerpts from the statement of Diekola Onaolapo, Chief Executive, Eczellon Capital, at a recent media chat

Diekola Onaolapo, Chief Executive, Eczellon CapitalAfrica is emerging – but at the moment, it is just that – “emerging”. We still have a long way to go when it comes to delivering real socio-economic promise for our continent and her people, starting with the Millennium Development Goals.

Although this desired growth and development is saddled largely with governments, governments alone cannot deliver the promise for the African continent. The main thrust for development will come from the private sector – entrepreneurs, businesses and professionals. Professionals will need to support by creatively leveraging their expertise to drive the required growth.

One important field of endeavor, which I feel will greatly assist in the achievement of the above mentioned goal is that of Investment Banking.

Investment banking is not only about securities trading, portfolio management or just issuing house, as most people perceive it to be around here. The profession goes further than these.

Investment banking and investment bankers are central to growth and development of new economic frontiers, such as the much touted emerging markets of Africa. They (investment banking professionals) can play a big role in deepening the economy by assisting businesses, governments and even individuals create innovative ideas and implementing them.

The traditional, primary service of investment banking is advisory services. This service, as simple as it sounds, requires a certain proficiency in analyzing issues and providing solutions that can change a product, a business, a government and a market.

Investment bankers are skilled in providing this support to governments and businesses – large corporate, small and medium scale enterprise, and even at individual levels.

In today’s Africa, governments need the advisory support of private sector professionals on what to do, and how to do it. Investment bankers have the ability to facilitate project development through project advisory, management and project finance for infrastructure and developmental projects. They should develop creative ways, beyond the obvious and “easy”, for governments to generate the right ideas, and revenues to implement them.

For businesses, investment bankers should be the businessman’s best friend. Investment bankers are professionals who should assist businesses by providing the tools required for the achievement of the economic objectives of businesses. One of the most important of these tools is finance.

In Nigeria, there seems to be this epidemic in entrepreneurship. We term it the epidemic of “entrepreneurial premature death.”

Why is it that entrepreneurship endeavours do not go beyond the “One-Man” mentality to the “Legacy Mentality”? – where businesses can be passed from one generation to another.

Skilled professionals who understand business strategy can help cure this. Investment bankers will provide the right business advice and strategy to large and small businesses alike to ensure that these economic going concerns get to the next level of their evolution, even with changes in key persons.

These and more, are roles which investment banking professionals can undertake to take our communities, our markets and our continent to the next level.

If investment bankers would take on these tasks, the African economy would flourish, deepen and real promises will be delivered.

Author: Diekola Onaolapo
Diekola is a finance professional with sound industry knowledge and a remarkable depth of experience. Diekola’s career includes experience from financial institutions, such as Citibank, and IBTC (now Stanbic IBTC, a member of the Standard Bank Group) where he managed international trade for public sector and large corporate clients, including telecommunication companies and manufacturing conglomerates. Before co-founding Eczellon Capital, Diekola was an Executive Director at Bluebird Capital and oversaw the advisory services and issuing house business of the company. Prior to Bluebird Capital, he worked with FutureView Financial Services Limited as Head, Advisory Services Unit, where he structured various M&A transactions and capital issues during the 2005 consolidation exercise in the Nigerian banking sector. He has also been involved in a lead role on various PPP and public sector projects including power sector privatization, federal and state road concessions, and the establishment of industrial parks. He is an expert in corporate finance, business and financial advisory.


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