Afreximbank President Dr. Benedict Oramah (left), flanked by Sindiso Ngwenya, Secretary General of COMESA, speaking during the Africa Forum 2016 in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.
The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has begun providing export diversification financing facilities to its member countries to help address challenges resulting from Africa’s over-dependence on commodity exports, Bank President Dr. Benedict Oramah has said.
Describing the Bank’s intervention in support of African economies during a panel discussion yesterday at the Africa Forum 2016 held in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, Dr. Oramah said that the initiative aimed to enable the Bank’s 38 member countries move toward the export of value added goods and light manufactures, away from unprocessed commodities with little value added.
He announced that Afreximbank had almost finished utilising $3.5 billion under the Counter-cyclical Trade Liquidity Facility, which its board of directors approved in December to enable it assist the member countries adjust to current adverse economic shocks, especially commodity price and terrorism-induced ones. It was now seeking to bring on board other financial institutions and partners so as to expand the facility.
The President added that the Bank was finalizing an intra-African trade strategy which would support increased trade among African countries.
Under the strategy, the Bank would support countries to create products to be traded and connect such producers to relevant institutions, like export trading companies, which it would promote and finance, to handle bulk exports, freeing the producers to focus on actual production.
Afreximbank would create a mobile platform to ease cross-border payments and reduce the foreign exchange cost of trade, he continued, adding that it would also open market opportunities by financing businesses engaged in distribution and logistics like warehouses, transport and other infrastructure. It also plans to help address risk perceptions about business in Africa by providing necessary guarantee covers.
Dr. Oramah expressed confidence that Africa could wean itself from dependence on commodities, citing the example of cocoa where the Bank’s intervention had resulted in significant progress, including the emergence of Cote d’Ivoire as both the largest producer and the country with the highest processing capacity in the world.
Afreximbank launched the Africa Cocoa Initiative after realizing that while Africa produces most of world cocoa, virtually all processing of the cocoa beans was taking place outside Africa, with the result that very little of the revenue from the cocoa sector was retained on the continent.
Also participating in the panel were Sindiso Ngwenya, Secretary General of COMESA; Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh, Director, Trade in Services Division, World Trade Organisation; Ali Faramawy, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft, Middle East and Africa; and George Choucair, Chairman and CEO, k2l Capital, Angola; while the moderator was Mark Eddo, a former BBC correspondent.
Earlier, the President held bilateral meetings with Dr. Sahar Nasr, Minister of International Cooperation of Egypt; Mr. Ngwenya; and Louis-Paul Motaze, Minister of Economy, Planning and Regional Development of Cameroon.
The two-day Africa Forum 2016, which ended today, was organized under the theme “Business for Africa, Egypt and the World”.