Uche Usim, Casablanca
African nations have been tasked to re-capture and dominate the $1 trillion market where non-African countries are currently in control.
The Executive Vice President, Business Development and Corporate Banking, Afreximbank, Mr Amr Kamel, gave the charge on Wednesday at a press conference held on the sidelines of the ongoing 2018 Structured Trade Finance (STF) conference and workshop in Casablanca, Morocco.
According to him, 200 banks have been engaged for extensive roadshows across the continent to unveil the economic and business potential African nations have to stimulate greater intra-African trade.
Kamel said the STF seeks to mitigate and address the high-risk perception challenge foreign investors have about Africa, especially in the area of compliance.
He said: “A lot of international banks are pulling out of Africa because of high risk perception on compliance.
They see that their investments are not yielding as much returns as they would possibly want because there are compliance issues with African businesses.
“So, we are fixing that. We are launching various initiatives to boost intra-African trade, especially with regard to access to information. Our research has shown that there are some goods and services an African nation can source from a neighbour but with paucity of information, they now sources those from far away nations thereby increasing capital flight to the detriment of the continent.
“We want to build back the trust. We want Africa to rise and control its market”, he explained.
The Afreximbank EVP also revealed that the institution would continue to make investments in trade enabling infrastructures like roads, aviation, rail and other major transportation means. On his advice for countries that are reluctant to sign the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA), Kamel said: “I will tell them that the train has left the station.
“In Kigali, where the agreement was to be signed and launched, 20 countries were present for the ceremony. However, before we finished that meeting, 44 countries signed it.
“Some nations with political issues that are yet to sign will eventually come around. The energy is there and those who won’t sign will be left behind.
Also speaking at the event, the Director and Global Head, Communications and Events Management, Afreximbank, Mr Obi Emekekwue, said about $60 billion has been invested in various African nations since Afreximbank was established in 1993.
He added that, Afreximbank in 2016, disbursed, on a revolving basis, some $7billion to a number of African Central Banks and designated commercial banks, which made it possible for them to avert potential default.
On countries that are not partnering with Afrexim, Emekekwue noted that such countries are politically fragile.
“So far, we have 50 members. The countries that aren’t members are fragile. Somalia, Libya, among others are yet to join us because of some issues they are trying to address.
“Aside large scale investments, we also facility for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and support factoring firms.
On loan recovery, he said the bank has been performing well, adding “ we don’t have any major issues in that regard. We have mechanism that enable us get our investments back”, he added