How African Free Trade Zone can become successful – Afreximbank President

The success of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will rest significantly on the ability of the continent’s private sector to generate or create the goods that will enter the trade, Dr. Benedict Oramah, President of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), said today.

Addressing Egyptian business leaders at a breakfast organized in Cairo, Dr. Oramah said that it would also depend on how the private sector in one market was able to identify and realize opportunities in other markets.

He highlighted the need for the private sector to take advantage of the opportunities that the CFTA would offer, arguing that Egypt, with its relatively advanced industrial base, could serve as a viable manufacturing hub and major source of technologies for most of the continent.

Its nearness to major markets in Africa also offered a tremendous opportunity for accessing the abundant raw materials and other intermediate goods from other African countries for further processing and export at competitive rates to other markets.

Afreximbank was working actively with the African Union Commission to ensure the realization of the goals of the AfCFTA, he said, telling the business leaders that the Bank could “assist you with information, market intelligence and financing, which will enable you take advantage of the opportunities that are emerging as a result of the AfCFTA”.

According to the President, the AfCFTA has the potential to increase Egypt’s trade with the rest of Africa by at least five folds.

He said that, over the last few years, Afreximbank had championed the growth of trade and investment flows between Egypt and the rest of Africa, providing about $5 billion in trade financing to Egyptian entities in the last three years and launching a $500-million Egypt-Africa Trade Promotion Programme in 2015, partly in response to the strategic move by the Egyptian Government to expand trade with Africa and promote regional integration under the Tripartite Free Trade Area.

The Bank also, recently, signed a $500-million financing package with the Export Development Bank of Egypt for financing Egyptian exports into Africa, he continued.

Afreximbank had made it possible for an Egyptian exporter of heavy infrastructure equipment to compete effectively with global players in African markets, enabling it to export equipment worth hundreds of millions of dollars to more than five African countries in the past three years, added Dr. Oramah.

It had also supported Egyptian engineering firms to win construction contracts in Nigeria, Kenya, Togo and Angola, despite stiff competition from international players.

In his own remarks, Amr Kamel, Executive Vice President, Business Development and Corporate Banking, discussed the role of Afreximbank in promoting African trade and talked about the programmes and facilities which the Bank had put in place to support African businesses engaged in trading activities.

Kanayo Awani, Managing Director, Intra-African Trade Initiative, informed the business leaders about the Intra-African Trade Fair being organized by the Bank in Cairo in December 2018.

Ms. Awani, who announced that the trade fair would hold from 11 to 17 December, said that it was being organized in collaboration with the African Union, and being hosted by the Government of Egypt, to support the development of intra-African trade.

The business breakfast was organized by AfroDev, a Cairo-based consulting and training firm that works on promoting economic development and business links among African countries.

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