|Dr. Benedict Oramah signs his oath of office as President of Afreximbank.|
Nigerian banker Dr. Benedict Oramah has in Cairo took over the leadership of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) as the third President of the continental trade finance institution.
At a colourful investiture ceremony presided over by Dr. Denny Kalyalya, Governor of the Bank of Zambia, on behalf of Alexander Chikwanda, Minister of Finance of Zambia and Chairman of the General Meeting of Shareholders of the Bank, Dr. Oramah swore the oath of office to formally assume office.
He takes over from Jean-Louis Ekra, who has led the institution since 2005. Mr. Ekra replaced Christopher Edordu, the pioneer President, who served terms staring with the Bank’s creation in 1993.
In a speech setting out his vision for the Bank, Dr. Oramah pledged to make the promotion and facilitation of intra-African trade the cornerstone of Afreximbank’s work in the years ahead.
“I believe that intra-African trade holds the key to a technology-driven growth on our continent as it will facilitate the attainment of dynamic comparative advantage in the production and export of certain kinds of manufactured goods and services and will prepare African firms for better global competition,” explained the new President.
He said that the Bank would work to create the capacity for export manufacturing, especially light manufactures, by shifting resources more to the financing of the import of investment or capital goods while de-emphasizing the financing of the import of non-essential consumption goods.
It would also broaden the investor base for the financing of the import of investment goods into Africa by promoting the use of forfaiting service and using it to create a market for banker acceptances in African trade documents while also using innovative technology-driven structures we to attract alternative financiers into Africa's forfaiting business and deepen the market, continued Dr. Oramah.
Earlier, outgoing President Jean-Louis Ekra expressed appreciation to the Nigerian government for its support in the early part of his presidency when it hosted him in the wake of the crisis that emerged at the Bank, saying that “without the support of the Nigerian Government during that critical period, the crisis could have had irretrievable adverse impact on the Bank.”
Mr. Ekra said that despite challenges during the early part of his presidency and recurrent adverse macroeconomic shocks that followed, the Bank grew its assets more than ten folds from about half a billion dollars in 2006 to more than $6 billion in June 2015, with loans accounting for more than 80 per cent of total assets.
He said that although the financial results over the period were remarkable, more gratification was to be drawn from the development impact of the Bank, including the Banks Africa Cocoa Initiative through which it is supporting creation of about 2,000 tonnes of cocoa processing capacity in Africa, taking into account that that the continent produces 80 per cent of world cocoa.
Mr. Ekra said expressed a “deep sense of assurance and enthusiasm to be handing over the leadership of Afreximbank to Dr. Oramah,” who he described as “a man who, for nearly two decades as my colleague and close collaborator, has demonstrated time and time again, his attachment, dedication, commitment to growth and development of the Bank.”
Mohamed Edrees, Egypt’s Assistant Foreign Minister for African Affairs, who represented Sameh Shoukry, said the Foreign Minister, commended the constructive and civilised transfer of power at Afreximbank, saying that it was very significant and important to see all former Presidents of the Bank present at the investiture of the new President.
According to him, such a smooth transfer of power was very unusual and held lessons for other institutions in Africa and beyond.
Also speaking, Dr. Kalyalya said that the administration of the oath of office on Dr. Oramah would close the transition process which was triggered by his appointment as the next President of Afreximbank on 13 June in Lusaka during the 22nd Annual Meeting of Shareholders of the Bank.
Until his appointment, Dr. Oramah was Afreximbank’s Executive Vice President in charge of Corporate Banking and Business Development. He was a pioneer staff of the Bank, which he joined in 1994 as Chief Analyst, rising to the position of Senior Director, Planning and Business Development Department in 2007. He previously served as Assistant Manager (Research) at the Nigerian Export-Import Bank from 1992 to 1994.
He completed his advanced education at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, where he obtained an M.Sc. and a Ph.D. in agricultural economics in 1987 and 1991 respectively. He had received a B.Sc., also in agricultural economics, from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, in 1983.
Dr. Oramah’s appointment followed a recommendation by the Bank’s Board of Directors. Under the terms of the Afreximbank Charter, Presidents of the Bank are appointed by the General Meeting of Shareholders upon the recommendation of the Board of Directors, and serve for terms of five years, renewable only once.
The formal selection process for the new President began in January 2015 with the publication of a call for applications in the international media and on the Afreximbank website. Applicants were subsequently shortlisted and interviewed in a process managed by an international human resources consulting firm. The names of the four top candidates were forwarded to the Board of Directors which then recommended the preferred candidate to the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders.
Dr. Oramah’s investiture also featured a panel discussion on the “Relevance of regional financial institutions”, with Hakim Ben Hamouda, Adviser to the President of the African Development Bank; Abdourahmane Cissé, the Ivoirian Minister of Budget; Gamal Mohamed Negm, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt; and Dr. Sidi Ould Tah, Managing Director, Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, as speakers and Paulo Gomes, Chairman of the Paulo Gomes and Partners, as moderator.
The Bank also mounted an exhibition of its products and services, including archive photographs, historical documents and art works on the side lines of the ceremony.
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