Uche Usim, Abuja
In line with its mandate to support intra-African businesses, the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) on Wednesday said it will provide a credit facility valued at up to two billion Rands (about $140 million) to the Kingdom of Eswatini to enable the Kingdom achieve required funding to meet trade and strategic economic goals.
The bank’s President, Prof. Benedict Oramah, made the revelation in Mbabane while addressing King Mswati III of the Kingdom of Eswatini on 31 May when he led an Afreximbank delegation to visit the King during a two-day state visit to the kingdom.
He said that the facility would also enable the Kingdom to leverage its future financial flows as a tool for economic development.
King Mswati III commended Afreximbank for the assistance and services it was committing to the country and welcomed the signing of the joint declaration as a key contribution toward the development of the Kingdom.
Earlier, during the signing ceremony, Neal Rijkenberg, Minister of Finance of Eswatini, who signed the Joint Declaration on behalf of the government, said that the facility, when finally effective, would help to address development opportunities before the kingdom.
Rijkenberg said that Eswatini could use Afreximbank’s assistance for advisory services in converting Eswatini’s agro-processing potential into a leading export driver. He also invited the bank to explore opportunities in the tourism and manufacturing sectors.
The delegation also met with Prime Minister Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini who commended the Bank’s commitment and dedication to Eswatini since it became a member of the Bank and said that the Bank’s support was invaluable to the Kingdom’s economic growth and expansion.
Oramah affirmed Afreximbank’s commitment to supporting the economic growth of Eswatini, saying, “We want to be relevant to the country. This visit will help us chart a more aggressive course to support the development of the country. There are many areas in which we can assist.”
Oramah identified the timber industry as a sector where Afreximbank could provide support. He noted that Eswatini had a large supply of timber and recommended that the government should develop a policy for the processing.
The delegation also attended a breakfast meeting hosted by the Prime Minster and attended by Mr. Rijkenberg; Senator Manqoba Khumalo, the Minister of Commerce; Dr Tambo Gina, the Minister of Economic Planning; and Andrew Le Roux, CEO of Montigny, the largest timber company in Eswatini.
The delegation was accompanied on the visit by representatives of Elsewedy Electric, an Afreximbank Intra-African Trade Champion. The Intra-African Trade Champions programme supports companies with proven intra-African trade experience, operations, and with value chains spanning across countries, with interventions, which include financing, market access and technical assistance.
The Afreximbank delegation also participated in the launch of the End Malaria Fund hosted by King Mswati III. The initiative seeks to end malaria in Eswatini and Africa by 2020. King Mswati III is the Chair of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance, a coalition of 49 African heads of state and government working across countries and regional borders to eliminate malaria by 2030.
The delegation also included Rene Awambeng, Director and Global Head of Client Relations; Ekene Uzor, Special Assistant to the President on Banking and Strategy; Humphrey Nwugo, Regional Chief Operating Officer, Southern Africa; Ayman El-Zoghby, of the Intra-African Trade Initiative; Adaeze Anyaoku of the Communications and Events Department; and Yikilah Ndahne of the Office of the President.