From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Durban, South Africa
President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Benedict Oramah, has disclosed the bank will disburse $40 billion to support intra-African trade over the next five years, building on the $20 billion dollars disbursed in the past five years.
He spoke, yesterday, during the opening of the second Intra African Trade Fair (IATF) at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban, South Africa.
Oramah said the trade fair is “in demonstration of our will, as a people, to defy the dark clouds cast by the COVID-19 and continue our journey towards collective self-reliance as Africans. We hinge our fate on trade, that powerful tool that can be a source for good and bad. It was trade that led to the fragmentation of Africa; it was trade that took millions of Africans against their will to far-away lands. Today, we embrace the same trade as an instrument for progress; as a tool for reversing the damage it inflicted on Africa over many decades.”
Listing the many initiatives the bank was implementing to guarantee the success of the AfCFT, Oramah said the bank is also providing Letters of Credit Confirmation lines to African commercial banks to support cross-border trade.
He said: “It is our aim to onboard 500 banks with aggregate lines of over $8 billion. The bank has so far onboarded nearly 480 and is today the bank with the widest messaging links with African banks.
“Working with the AU and the AfCFTA secretariat, we have created a Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) to facilitate cross-border payments in national currencies. The system, which is currently piloting in the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ), will strengthen national currencies, integrate Africa’s payment infrastructure, and save the continent about $5 billion in transfer charges. Above all, it will return to Africa, large volumes of trade diverted from the continent due to currency issues. Afreximbank is supporting the pilot in an amount of $500 million and expects to expand this to $3 billion when fully adopted across Africa…”
President, African Development Bank Group, Akinwumi Adesina, said: “Investors know: if you’re not in Africa, you’re not in business.”
He said they know that with over 50 countries harmonising tariffs, rules and standards, the Africa Continental Free Trade Area will soon become the largest free trade area in the world since the establishment of the World Trade Organisation.
He said the fair was the right event at the right time.
Adesina said: “The Africa Continental Free Trade Area will create a market of 1.3 billion people and drive a combined gross domestic product of $3.3 billion. The size of consumer and business expenditures in Africa will rise to $6.7 trillion by 2030.
“African Development Bank Group is a strong supporter of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area. Especially now, as we build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to boost intra-regional trade has never been greater.”