NDAMU SANDU IN CAIRO, EGYPT
The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has disbursed US$20bn to boost intra-Africa trade and will double the support in five years, bank president Benedict Oramah has said.
There is a drive to push intra-African trade with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) touted as the vehicle to allow African countries and companies to trade more among themselves.
In his remarks at the official opening of Afreximbank’s 29th AGM on Thursday, Oramah said the bank has escalated its support to drive intra-African trade.
“Through our intra-African trade division, we have in 5 years disbursed about US$20bn in support of intra-African trade and investments, with plans to disburse US$40bn during the next five years,” Oramah said.
“We have raised the intra-African trade share of the bank’s portfolio from 3% in 2016 to about 27% in 2021.”
He said the bank has been supporting African contractors to bid for African infrastructure-related projects.
Over the last few years, about US$12bn of such projects have been supported, Oramah said.
The trade finance bank is also providing trade confirmation lines and correspondent banking services to African banks to support intra- and extra-African trade.
So far, Afreximbank has onboarded nearly 500 African banks and opened credit lines for 170 in 38 countries, Oramah said.
An amount of US$3.9bn in limits has been created.
Oramah said Afreximbank boasts of the largest network of connected African banks to ensure that no country is deprived of trade services.
“And as international banks continue to withdraw from the continent, Afreximbank is developing a strategy to support strong African banks to fill the void, so that African financial markets can be in the hands of Africans,” he said, adding that the bank was working with Banque Misr, National Bank of Egypt, Baque du Caire, Vista Bank, Coris Bank and Oakwood Green in their African expansions.
The AfCFTA is touted as Africa’s Marshall plan. A report by the World Bank said the implementation of the single market, the largest trading bloc after the World Trade Organisation, will lift 100m African out of poverty and contributing US$450bn to Africa’s GDP by 2035.
Trading under the AfCFTA regime commenced on January 1, 2021.
As of May 2022, 54 of 55 member states of the African Union have signed the AfCFTA Agreement, and 43 have deposited their instrument of ratification with the Depositary of the Agreement.