JUNE 12, 2017 – African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has said that the Continent’s total trade being in excess of $1 trillion in 2016 has steadily moved on to the centre stage of global trade.
Besides, the bank’s strides to ensure trade integration across the Continent, as well as connect the respective sub-regions to the rest of the world with enhanced products’ export got new boost, as it brokered new multilateral deals.
Nigeria, already in the bank’s trade financing deals, would now get a fair share of the deals, especially as the new economic blueprint is favouring the development of the country’s trade and export sector, in efforts to enrich foreign exchange earnings and diversify the economy.
The bank’s President, Dr. Benedict Oramah, in his assessment of trade developments in Africa, at the just concluded two-day Belarus-Africa Forum, in Minsk, said Africa is in a hurry for growth. It boasts of the youngest and most vibrant people, with 40 per cent of the population expected to be below the age of 30 by 2030.
Already, Afreximbank and the Development Bank of Belarus has put in place an $800 million Belarus-Africa Trade and Investment Finance Facility, to provide trade and project financing and risk cover for African and Belarusian entities to support trade between them.
Afreximbank also unveiled risk-bearing facilities that could protect Belarusian companies engaged in business and investment activities in Africa, in addition to implementing country risk and investment guarantees, as well as a guarantee programme in support of African government commitments to project promoters.
Explaining the trade opportunities in Africa, he said demand for investment goods was high and rising rapidly, with Africa needing an estimated $93 billion infrastructure investment yearly for the next 10 years to close its huge gap.
He said that while Africa required partners, it is not those that are merely interested in selling consumption goods to it or that saw the Continent as a “beverage” economy that is only good at producing low priced and volatile commodities.
“Africa needs partners that can accompany it on the path to sustainable development; partners that can share their experiences about how to rise from poverty and deprivation to wealth and affluence; partners that can engage it in a fair exchange of goods and services. (Also) partners that are willing to share their knowledge, technology and expertise so that together they and Africa can reap the promise of converting the potential of Africa into kinetics,” he said.
Oramah described Belarus as the kind of partner Africa needed, noting that the country presented an immense opportunity as a source of affordable investment goods needed for development, citing its factories that churned out tonnes of heavy equipment and tractors and its expertise in mining and Information Technology.
But the Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus, Valentin Rybakov, said the country believed that the time has come to enhance relations with Africa, and identified the areas of common interest to include agriculture, land development, industrialisation and public development.
He said with increased Belarusian focus on Africa, the country’s trade with the Continent had grown from almost no value a few years ago to current annual figures running into millions of dollars.
According to him, Belarus is not just interested in trading with Africa by simply buying and selling but wanted to collaborate with the Continent through launching and cooperating in promoting businesses and creating jobs across the Continent, as well as participate in its industrialisation.