…Says next 25 years will be challenging but full of opportunities
African Export -Import Bank (Afreximbank) has projected that in the next 25 years from now, Africa will overcome direct and indirect ploys from world powers to take control of its abundant natural and human resources to become the world’s factory for manufacturing as well as most dynamic market.
However, to achieve this, there will be the need to also bridge the trade and infrastructure gap on the continent.
President and Chairman Board of Directors, Afreximbank, Dr. Benedict Oramah, made the revelation on Friday in Abuja, while delivering a welcome address on day three of the bank’s Annual General Meeting and 25th Anniversary, saying, “there is no doubt that Afreximbank has made a tremendous difference as envisaged by its Founding Fathers.”
Oramah noted that the work is not done yet judging from the $120 billion trade finance gap that needs to be closed.
He added that an annual $93 billion trade infrastructure gap is required to be filled; a global trade share, at 3 percent, that needs to be raised; and Intra-African trade that is still far below ‘‘our aspirations.’’
He said: “We will be celebrating a continent that has responded to the realities of global trade relations to become more integrated, with intra-African trade rising to more than 50% of the continent’s total trade; I see an Africa in full control of the value chains of its key commodity endowments.
“About 25 years ago, right in this very conference facility, a momentous event in the annals of Africa’s institutional development unfolded; Africa decided to take its destiny in its own hands!
Challenged by an unprecedented debt crisis that ravaged the continent like a plague, a Child of Necessity conceived for Africa and by Africans was effectively delivered by Africans; The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), was born!
“Today we celebrate the 25th anniversary of a child that has come of age. Afreximbank has become an established, mature and reputable bank.
However, the real celebration is about the real outcomes of those 25 years of work, outcomes that cannot be adequately measured just by the number of clients served, the size of the trade finance gap filled, number of new products launched, nor the number of partnerships developed.
“The Bank’s Mission goes beyond providing financing. It also involves empowering African businesses to gain global competitiveness, facilitating structural transformation, facilitating collective self-reliance through expanded intra-African trade, creating jobs and improving the lives of the African people and securing their future. The goal is to transform despair into hope and to transform hope into tangible dividends!!
“As a delegate to the First General Meeting of Shareholders where the vision of an African Export-Import Bank became a reality, I bore witness to the hope and inspiration that swept through this very hall;
I danced along with others almost all night as we celebrated the outcome of the first major collective action Africans took in an attempt to turn around their economic misfortunes.
“And as I caught a few hours of sleep that night, the voice of the late Dr. Babacar N’diaye, President of the African Development Bank at that time and chief architect of the Afreximbank Project, reverberated in my ears and I quote:
“The Memorandum of Understanding which was adopted by potential shareholders in Cairo spells out clearly the kind of export-import bank that Afreximbank’s shareholders wish to establish. … the Bank will operate on sound commercial principles on a profit making basis … the impact of the Bank will be most manifest in increased supply of short-term trade credit, which will enhance growth, and ultimately social progress.
“The new bank would boost intra-African trade, especially in non-traditional and manufacturing products … and will play a crucial role in the promotion of African regional integration… if Afreximbank is to attain the proud position of a pan-African organization, it will also need to redress the dearth of knowledge and information about trading opportunities within Africa…,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was a guest speaker at the event, hailed the giant strides of Afreximbank, recalling that ‘‘we (Africa) did not understand early enough that the world we live in is not sympathetic to us.’’
Besides, Obasanjo, pointed out that ‘‘we are getting to our destination with what regional banks are doing.’’
He also said that Africa need to look beyond capital and also apply innovative solutions in the quest to develop.
Commenting on then African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), the former President further said that it is a clear demonstration that African leaders are becoming more realistic.
He recalled that at the formation of AFCFTA ‘‘we were hoping to 25 countries endorsing the agreement. But interestingly, 44 nations have signed into it.’’
Obasanjo, commended African leaders for imbibing the spirit of working closely under the AfCFTA platform for the continent’s development.
For his part, founder and Chairman of Econet Group, Strive Masiyiwa, as well as other panelists at the event, lauded the Afreximbank for its supportive roles, adding that at inception ‘‘I know that the bank was going to be important for Africa’s development.’’