The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) today opened its Abidjan Branch Office, with the Ivorian Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan saying that the Branch Office would accentuate the Bank’s effort at achieving economic integration in Africa.
At the official opening ceremony in Abidjan, Mr. Duncan said that economic integration remained a major challenge to Africa and described Afreximbank as a catalyst for the grand project to drive economic growth and integration in Cote d’Ivoire and in the West Africa sub-region.
“As a founding member of Afreximbank, Cote d’Ivoire is proud to host the Bank’s third branch office,” he said, adding that the country had positioned itself for economic growth through the structural and sectoral reforms it had implemented.
Earlier, Jean-Louis Ekra, President of Afreximbank, said that the Branch Office was expected to greatly improve access to the services of the Bank by allowing it to speed up the geographic diversification of its portfolio in order to reach more entities in its member states.
It would also hasten the realisation of the Bank’s vision of promoting intra-African trade, he said.
Mr. Ekra said that the establishment of the branch office was the result of the rapid increase in the Bank’s activities in the ECOWAS region which, at $1.817 billion, accounts for 52 per cent of the Bank’s annual business, compared to $631 million, or 18 per cent, for second-placed southern Africa.
“Taking into account the strong growth and the inadequacy of the Abuja Branch Office to effectively respond to requests from other ECOWAS countries, and in line with the Bank’s Fourth Strategic Plan, the Bank decided to open a second branch office in the zone,” he explained
Mr. Ekra added that Afreximbank decided site the Branch Office in Abidjan after a very rigorous assessment and said that it would perform marketing, business development, relationship management, loan structuring, loan monitoring and agency functions for Afreximbank in the Francophone West Africa area.
The establishment of new branch offices to serve Francophone West Africa and East Africa was approved by the Bank’s Board of Directors during the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders in Libreville in June 2014.
Afreximbank and the Ivorian Government signed the two foundation agreements for the establishment of the Abidjan Branch Office on 22 September 2014. With today’s opening ceremony, the Bank will now start full operations from the Branch Office.
Afreximbank’s two other branch offices are located in Abuja and Harare, with a fourth one, to be located in Nairobi, is expected to come on stream shortly.
The opening ceremony was witnessed by ministers, members of the diplomatic corps, heads of financial institutions, members of the Afreximbank Board of Directors, business leaders, some shareholders and a number of the Bank’s key customers in Cote d’Ivoire.
Manal Mounir Hendy