The Afreximbank-led trade mission with officials of Belarusbank after their meeting in Minsk
The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is ready to set aside $400 million as part of a programme to finance and promote trade between African countries and Belarus, the President, Dr. Benedict Oramah, has announced in Minsk.
Dr. Oramah was speaking on Monday during a series of meetings with officials and bankers in the Belarusian capital when he led a delegation of the Bank, accompanied by African business leaders, on a trade mission to improve trade relations between African countries and Belarus.
He said that there was no reason why Belarus’ current trade with Africa, which stands at $300 million per annum, should not rise to $1 billion and invited Belarusian Banks and financial institutions to contribute matching funds to support the programme.
Dr. Oramah said that Afreximbank would consider increasing its contribution to the programme if the initial amount got exhausted.
Meeting Gen.-Col. Victor Sheiman, Chief of Presidential Affairs of Belarus, the President told him that Africa was in a hurry to develop and was looking for suitable partners, especially suppliers of investment and development good, to work with to achieve that goal.
With its expertise in mining, production of agricultural equipment, road construction, bridge building and pipeline equipment, Belarus was a natural partner which could supply the capital goods which Africa needed for its development, he said.
At the Belarus Potash Company, President Oramah urged the company to consider going into joint ventures with African businesses to help the continent achieve the goal of becoming the next food basket of the world.
According to him, African countries are now giving priority to modernising agriculture using fertiliser to increase productivity. The joint ventures would help to increase production by increasing availability of fertiliser.
The delegation also visited the Development Bank of Belarus where the President said that Afreximbank was ready to collaborate with the Development Bank in financing investment goods from Belarus to Africa, including through risk sharing, joint financing and other ways.
Afreximbank could also introduce potential buyers from different sectors looking for heavy equipment for mining, construction, agriculture, and certain kinds of manufacturing that could help Africa to undertake production on the continent.
He invited the bank to consider taking up shareholding in Afreximbank tostrengthen the partnership.
At the National Bank of Belarus, the country’s central bank, Dr. Oramah said that Afreximbank was trying to move away from financing import of consumption goods toward investment goods which would enable Africa to increase local production. The continent, therefore, needed infrastructure, equipment for undertaking and expanding manufacturing and those for commercial agriculture.
At Belarusbank, Dr. Oramah said that with Afreximbank’s current strategy focusing on intra-African trade and industrialization, it wanted to establish a strong partnership with Belarus and with Belarusian banks to boost trade between the country and Africa.
Afreximbank saw Belarus as a very good source for Africa’s present needs because of its capacity, especially with regard to potash production for fertiliser and production of mining, construction and agricultural equipment.
Earlier, Gen.-Col. Sheiman said that Belarus saw itself as a prospective partner for African countries and was ready to deliver industrial equipment and to set up local service facilities on the continent in such sectors as agriculture, energy, infrastructure and mining.
On her part, Elena Kudravets, Director General of the Belarusian Potash Company, said that the company was ready to go into joint ventures in Africa and was committed to growing on the continent.
The Chairman of the Board of the Development Bank of Belarus, Sergei Roumas, said that the bank would support businesses exporting equipment to African countries and would consider acquiring shares in Afreximbank.
Pavel Kallaur, Chairman of the Board of the National Bank of Belarus, said that the central bank was prepared to provide any possible support to increase trade between Belarus and Africa.
Accompanying the President from Afreximbank were George Elombi, Executive Vice-President, Governance, Legal and Corporate Services; Gwen Mwaba, Director, Trade Finance; Obi Emekekwue; Head of Communications; Richman Dzene, Special Assistant to the President; and Oluranti Doherty, of the Export Development Department.
The delegation included business leaders from Cote d’Ivoire, Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tanzania.
Manal Mounir Hendy