Afreximbank champions more intra-African trade at 2023 Annual Meetings opening

By Francis Ntow

Accra, June 19, GNA – The 2023 Annual General Meetings of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) opened in Accra on Sunday, with speakers urging Governments to increase efforts to boost intra-African trade and regional integration.

That, the speakers said, would contribute to Africa’s recovery process, engender stable economic growth, create employment for its citizens, and reduce poverty on the continent.

The call comes in the face of the challenges arising from the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine crisis and other global conflicts and structural challenges of African economies.

The 2023 Afreximbank Annual Meetings (AAM2023), which ends on June 21, is also being held to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the multilateral financial institution.

Dr Ernest Yedu Addison, Governor of the Bank of Ghana told the gathering that the time had come to reflect on how the continent could meaningfully contribute to Africa’s recovery process after the pandemic.

He stressed the need for economies to speed up intra-African trade and improve Africa’s trade performance in the global marketplace through the creation of a single market for goods and services.

Dr Addison said Africa must also promote industrial development through diversification and regional value chain development and the Continent.

He commended the Afreximbank for its support of African economies, and for the numerous interventions in infrastructural investments to support intra-African trade, agriculture and industry, trade facilitation, trade guarantee and advisory services, and country-specific programmes to support those in dire economic situations.

Mohamed Ahmed Maait, Minister of Finance of Egypt and Chairman of the Afreximbank Annual Meetings, who was represented by Gamal Negm, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt, asked Africans to work collaboratively towards finding integrated solutions to the new challenges confronting the continent.

He was hopeful that the annual meetings would lead to more constructive solutions to Africa’s problems and described the Bank as one of the African institutions delivering on the African Union’s (AU) Vision 2063.

Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, remarked that the inclusion of a vision for an integrated African market in the founding treaty of the OAU, the founding fathers of the AU had foreseen the need for Afreximbank.

That vision, he said, had been grounded in the objective of the integration of African trade finance, and called for enhanced measures to eliminate trade barriers and increase access to trade finance for businesses.

“If trade barriers were eliminated but there was no trade finance, all the efforts would come to nothing. At the same time, if trade finance was available but trade barriers persisted and prevented trade, then all the efforts would still have been wasted,” he said.

Mahamadou Issoufou, former President of Niger, charged African governments to capitalise on having a considerable proportion of the world’s arable land to feed itself through agriculture and agro-industrialisation, which would lead to the creation of employment.

He commended Afreximbank for its support for the AfCFTA project, including the AfCFTA Adjustment Fund – aimed at helping countries to adapt to the pact and improve their ability to compete in the new trade regime for which the Bank had provided some $1 billion.

Issoufou made references to the Bank’s launch of the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPPS) to allow for intra-African trade payments to be done in local currencies.

He also commended the Bank for the introduction of the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF), a platform for exchange, which Africa needed to meet the demands of the AfCFTA.

The African Export-Import Bank is a Pan-African multilateral financial institution mandated to finance and promote intra-and extra-African trade.

At the end of 2022, Afreximbank’s total assets and guarantees stood at over US$31 billion, and its shareholder funds amounted to US$5.2 billion. The Bank disbursed more than US$86 billion between 2016 and 2022.