The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has called on Nigeria to take the lead in intra-African trade in the continent.
The Executive Vice President, Intra-African Trade Bank, Afreximbank, Mrs. Kanayo Awani, made the call in Lagos, in her opening remarks at the High-Level Business Roadshow on the forthcoming Intra Africa Trade Fair (IATF) expected to take place in Egypt from November 9th to 15th.
“Independence is only the prelude to a new and more involved struggle for the right to conduct our own economic and social affairs,” Awani cited Kwame Nkrumah, Pan-Africanist and father of African independence statement.
According to Awani, “This statement made over 60 years ago continues to ring true today. It underlines the position that despite attaining political independence, Africa’s emancipation was far from complete and the quest for economic independence still lies ahead.
“This quest continues and makes it imperative for us to work collectively to find African solutions to the challenges facing our continent.”
She noted that it also encourages the Nigerian public and private sector to actively participate, take advantage of the opportunities to grow and expand their business, drive intra-African trade, and support economic integration under the AfCFTA.
“This trade fair is meant to bridge the gap on trade and market information. That is why I’m charging the government, financial institutions, and states to support and sponsor participants to come to the trade fair in Egypt,” Awani added.
She noted that Afreximbank had invested over $36 billion into the Nigerian economy since its creation in 1993 through its trade and project financing initiatives. This support has covered a range of sectors and industries, including among others, energy, transport, financial services, healthcare, manufacturing and trade infrastructure.
“Afreximbank remains committed to contributing to Nigeria’s economic growth as evident in several flagship projects underway,” she reiterated.
Among the projects are the $300 million 500-bed Africa Medical Centre of Excellence (AMCE) ongoing in Abuja in partnership with King’s College, London, the Afreximbank Africa Trade Centre (AATC), also in Abuja, and the Africa Quality Assurance Centre (AQAC) in Shagamu, Ogun State, which is already operational.
Awani, also reiterated that Afreximbank was not only spearheading the IATF to support the AfCFTA, but was also at the forefront of supporting African trade.
The bank had also developed financing and facilitation instruments to support trade and investment, she added.
She emphasised that, “Afreximbank intends to double its financing of intra-African trade to US$40 billion on a revolving basis by 2026, up from US$ 20 billion in 2021.”
Nigerian businesses are in pole position to lead intra-African trade growth and rapidly expand their footprint across the continent according to experts that attended the Business Roadshow in Lagos.
The Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Dr. Ezra Yakusak, spoke about how the NEPC spearheads Nigeria’s participation at the IATF and extolled the benefits of the trade fair to Nigerian businesses.
The High-Level IATF Roadshow in Lagos also featured two insightful panel sessions: ‘Growing intra-African trade amidst increasing regional and global geopolitical challenges.’
Regional Chief Operating Officer, Anglophone West Africa, Afreximbank, Intong Eric Monchu, said the implementation of AfCFTA was the arrowhead of Afreximbank’s strategy and that the continent “must stop being last in terms of trade and must tailor African solutions to African challenges.”
Speaking about Nigeria, Bank of Industry’s Divisional Head of Corporate Finance, Leonard Kange, said: “The country is vulnerable to the volatility due to exporting raw materials. You’re exporting money and importing poverty. It is very important to support and develop our industrial base, support and enable them to grow.”
Also, DGM/Head, Strategic and Corporate Communication, Nigeria Export-Import Bank, Olatayo Omidiji, called on Nigeria to develop infrastructure and technology for manufacturing to compete globally as the composition of trade globally is mainly manufactured finished products: “The starting point is to add value to raw materials.”
In the second session, entitled ‘What must Nigeria do to take advantage of the AfCFTA?’ the panelists provided actionable insights on localising manufacturing with quality products conforming to international standards and improving transport infrastructure.
Senior Adviser, AfCFTA Secretariat, Mr. Emeka Uzomba, spoke about the key benefits of the AfCFTA as the most important development tool for Africa by creating a large trading block that provides scale and encourages the localisation of manufacturing. He also spoke about improving the standard and quality of products, efficiency of processes as well as infrastructure and trade as services and called on the private sector to play its part.