By Ebere Nwoji
The African Export Import (AFREXIM) Bank, has signed a memorandum (MOU) of understanding with both the Dangote Group of Companies and Tony Elumeluâ€™s Heirs Holdings for a loan of 1$billion and $.1billion respectively.
The two deals, were signed at one of the sessions at the 24th Annual General Meeting of the bank holding in Kigali, Rwanda.
At the signing ceremony, AFREXIM Bankâ€™s president, Dr. Paul Oramah, said the deal was part of the bankâ€™s bid to expand businesses in Africa through disbursement of N9 trillion ($25 billion) in the next five years.
He said the bank, had set for itself target of strengthening businesses in various sectors of the economy within the region to bring a major change in the prevailing situation whereby once there was crash in commodity prices, it would send economies of most countries into recession.
He said the regional bank, which was currently focusing its core strategy on promoting intra-African trade, promoting industrialisation and export of manufactured goods as well as maintaining trade financing leadership in Africa, was already making its business supportive and promotion impact in many countries within the continent.
The AFREXIM Bank boss, commended the president of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, for his business efforts describing him as pride of Africa.
Listing Dangote group among the African business Champions, the continent could boast of Oromah, stated, â€œA number of African champions have emerged creating manufacturing capacities and fostering the emergence of regional and continental supply chains. For instance:
â€œThe Dangote Group has cement plants in about 14 African countries and is now the largest supplier of cement in Africa. The Group will by 2018 open one of the largest refineries in the world. The refinery, with capacity of about 650,000 bpd, can supply the total refining requirements of West Africa.â€
Speaking, Dangote thanked the bank for the loan saying it would be judiciously utilized in expansion of the groupâ€™s investment. He said the group had investments in 14 African countries adding that its main business in those countries was cement.
He said in its effort to expand its business frontiers, the group had to contend with competition, some of which comes from top government officials of the host countries.
He said the group, had relied on legal appeals to surmount such problem.
The group, according to him, surmounts problem of high production cost in most of the African countries by generating its own power directly from the national grid.
He said even in the midst of the resistance, the group, paid its taxes to these countries and creates employment for their citizens.
He regretted the existing border challenges in the region adding that 30 per cent of business cost was from border challenges.
He called for ease in intra-African businesses as was the case in Asia and Europe.
He encouraged young investors in the country to believe in their abilities, adding that this was the beginning of their success.
Speaking, Chairman of Heirs Holdings, Tony Elumelu, expressed delight in the bankâ€™s effort to strengthen businesses in the region.
He said the $100 million facility will further support Heirs Holdingsâ€™ cross-border investment programme. Heirs Holdings is a pan-African investment proprietary holding company with a portfolio of investments in 20 African countries, in key sectors of the African economy comprising energy, financial services, real estate and hospitality.
He also advised political and economic leaders in the region to make their economic environment more predictable.
Elumelu, who gave the advice while sharing his business experience at one of the sessions at the meeting also challenged private sector business operators to transform African countries into investment destination by encouraging young school leavers who had penchant for entrepreneurship to set up their own businesses.
He observed that 99 per cent of young Africans who had flair for entrepreneurship were out of job due to lack of support.
He said his business experiences, point to the fact that Africans could expand on their existing level of investment by creating right environment, learning to save and invest in the continent, save and allow their money work in the continent instead of taking them abroad, invest for immediate profit and save for the future as well as invest in the youths who were the future leaders by empowering them financially and otherwise.
He cited example with his experience as Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, saying just last year about 90,000-would-be young entrepreneurs, submitted applications for aid from the foundation but only 1000 were taken while the rest were unsuccessful.
He challenged private sector investors to pick some out of these and empower and develop them for establishment.