The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will lead to Africa’s economic development and bring about a better future for the continent, Dr. Benedict Oramah, President of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), has said.
Contributing to a panel discussion on “Financing Intra-African Trade” during the Business Forum held in Kigali recently to mark the launch of the AfCFTA, Dr. Oramah said as part of its drive to promote intra-African trade and regional integration, Afreximbank had identified several countries that served as hubs for trade among African countries
Those hubs were already playing significant roles in their sub-regions in supporting cross-border trading and were critical in AfCFTA implementation, he said. They included South Africa in Southern Africa, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa, Kenya in East Africa and Egypt in North Africa.
Dr. Oramah said that Afreximbank was working on the establishment of export trading companies which would aggregate products from small traders for export across the continent and beyond.
The operation of such companies would remove the need for individual small traders, who were not equipped for such trade, to try to export the products by themselves.
He added that the Bank had signed a $1 billion memorandum of understanding with the Export Credit Insurance Corporation of South Africa for a South Africa-Africa Trade Promotion Programme aimed at expanding trade between South Africa and other African countries.
A similar programme, which the Bank signed with Egypt, in the amount of $500 million, was quickly exhausted and had to be replenished, he stated.
Afreximbank had also introduced an African Guarantee Programme to enhance the ability of African businesses to obtain trade financing.
Earlier, Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, said that although the AfCFTA had been long in coming, it offered a lot of hope for the African continent.
He urged all Africans to rally around the effort, saying that it would benefit both big and small countries.
Also participating in the panel were Gabriel Negatu, Director General, East Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office of the African Development Bank; Diane Karusisi, CEO, Bank of Kigali, Rwanda; and James Mwangi, CEO, Equity Bank, Kenya.
Meanwhile, the bank has inaugurated an Advisory Council for the inaugural Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2018), with former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo as Chairman.
Jean-Louis Ekra, a former President of Afreximbank, is the Deputy Chairman of the Advisory Council, which is charged with providing guidance for the preparations for the trade fair scheduled to hold in Cairo from 11 to 17 December 2018.
Also represented on the Council are the African Union Commission; the African Development Bank; the Pan-African Chamber of Commerce and Industry; the World Trade Centre, Miami; the International Trade Centre; Egypt, as the host country, the AfroChampions Initiative; and PixyKorner, the professional trade fair organiser retained for the event. Afreximbank is serving as the Secretariat.