Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has called on the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) to invest more in the area of infrastructure development with a view to promoting trade and investment on the continent.
Adeosun made the call on Wednesday in Abuja, at the opening of the Afreximbank Annual General Meeting and 25th Anniversary of the organisation tagged: “Celebrating the past, shaping the future.”
She said, “We are tired of hearing rhetoric on Africa’s potential, let us put it into action.
As a government, we are working to encourage real growth and sustainable trade within the African continent.
“We must transform our national economies and we must transform trade. The minister also urged Afreximbank to continue with its trade promotion and infrastructural development.
Kemi Adeosun, however, expressed confidence that the meeting would provide opportunities for African businesses to share ideas on how to develop the continent. She then urged participants to find concrete ways of promoting and financing African businesses.
In his address at the event, South African President, Cyril Ramophosa, expressed the hope that participant will develop practical framework that will facilitate Africa’s growth in achieving the agenda 2063 of the African Union.
Ramophosa also urged Nigeria to sign the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) agreement which has already been signed by 44 countries on the continent, saying that after careful consultation, his country had no option than to join in the AfCTa. He pointed out that other African countries look up to Nigeria and South Africa, hence the need for the two leading economies to sign the agreement as a demonstration of their leadership roles.
Ramaphosa said, “We are gathering in Abuja as optimists, determined to build a productive and innovative Africa “As Africans, we should play the role we are endowed to play with innovation and talent which Africa is known for.”
In his opening remarks, Afreximbank President/CEO, Dr. Benedict Oramah, said that colonialism created a problem that still persists. Oramah also decried the status of Africa “as a dumping ground for European goods.”
He cited the expression that “there can be no genuine assured of the present without hope for a better future.” Oramah further disclosed that Afreximbank would distribute $25 billion to support intra-African trade from now to 2025, adding that about $8billion has so far been released to most countries for infrastructure development and trade promotion. The multi-financial service bank was established in 1993.
Meanwhile, Afreximbank has signed a €500 million agreement with the Development Bank of the Central African States (BDEAC). BDEAC is a multilateral development bank that is charged with financing the development of member states.
Oramah signed the agreement on behalf of Afreximbank while Mr. Fortunato Mbo Nchama signed on behalf of BDEAC. Besides, Afreximbank has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI) to promote easy payment within Africa. It would also promote shared prosperity among countries in the subregion to achieving mutual growth leveraging on their individual strength.
The interlink payment system enables countries to trade in their local currencies using the payment platform while they don’t have to go through the use of dollars.
Speaking during a panel discussion segment at the event, Alec Erwin, former Minister of Trade, South Africa, noted that Nigeria’s ongoing consultations on African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), was a step in the right direction. Owen pointed out that majority of trades are carried out in the manufacturing sector, saying that Nigeria can’t afford to open its market to outside products when it cannot compete favourably.
Other panelists including the African Union (AU) Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Ambassador Albert M. Muchanga, expressed satisfaction that Africa is taking its economy serious through the AfCFTA. Adeosun had earlier told the gathering that the trade agreement was too important for the country to sign without making sure that the interest of its people was protected.
According to her, the federal government had embarked on a nationwide consultation with state governments, local government authorities, manufacturers and other stakeholders, adding that the government had almost concluded the consultations and would soon take a decision on whether to sign the agreement or not.
She said, “We have been doing a lot of consultations around the country with manufacturers and other stakeholders.
“People are asking legitimate questions about how the AfCFTA affects them. We must get things right and that is why we must follow the due process so that we can say that we have done all the things that we are expected to do. So that is simply what has been happening in the last few months.”