By leveraging the continent’s youth and digital technology resources, the Afreximbank has made a strong case for the breakthrough of intra-African trade.
The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), a pan-African multilateral finance institution, is asking for an expansion in intra-African trade and financing, citing the continent’s young and technological resources.
Prof. Benedict Okechukwu Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank, made a strong case for increasing intra-African trade during the 29th Annual Meetings of Afreximbank on June 15 in Cairo, providing insight into the challenges limiting trade and clear solutions as to how the continent can resolve them.
As the voice of the African energy industry, the African Energy Chamber (AEC) applauds Afreximbank for its efforts, and will continue to assist Afreximbank as it works to realize Africa’s full developmental potential.
Prof. Oramah’s recommendations arrive at a time when Africa is well positioned to become a competitive trade hub.
The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) went into effect in January 2021, bringing in a new age of simpler trade in Africa.
After a year, the continent has been reluctant to realize the full potential of the deal, prompting the Afreximbank to step up its efforts to encourage intra-African trade and financing.
In his address, he said: “While the problem was identified decades ago, it is only now that Africa can boast of possessing a combination of factors that can resolve it. These consist of visionary and committed leadership, the youth, and digital technology. Our leadership has done the courageous work of giving us the AfCFTA. A lot now hinges on our youth. It is for this reason that Afreximbank dedicated this year’s Annual Meeting to the theme, “Realizing the AfCFTA Potential in the Post-COVID-19 Era: Leveraging the Power of The Youth.”
Africa’s youth are critical to achieving significant and long-term economic growth. With one of the world’s youngest and fastest-growing populations, Africa has all the ingredients to develop very appealing local markets as a result of improved intra-African trade and commerce.
As a trade-finance focused development bank, the Afreximbank is not only an advocate but also a vital driver of Africa’s economic progress, and the AEC honors the bank’s contributions to Africa’s future development.
As Prof. Oramah stated, “It is our view that the youth will be the catalytic force to the realization of the continental agenda. Indeed, the youth have always been the catalyst to economic transformations and at the base of every industrial revolution in advanced economies. It is no coincidence that at the height of each Industrial Revolution, youth constituted the largest proportion of the labor force and population.”
As a result, the continent will see intra-African commerce extended and market growth realized by focusing on capacity building, skills transfer, and upliftment of the indigenous workforce, while also investing capital into small to medium firms and African entrepreneurs.
“We believe that Afreximbank’s demonstrated drive for enhanced intra-African trade will only strengthen Africa’s socioeconomic development. Frameworks such as the AfCFTA have made it possible to increase trade within and across the continent, and now, everyday Africans need to capitalize on the opportunities presented by this framework and develop an Africa that we are proud of, an Africa that everyday Africans deserve,” stated NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the AEC.
Adding that, “Going forward, it is important for us to de-risk African investments and drive commercial opportunities within African countries. Afreximbank has been one of the main drivers of energy transactions across the continent and have been willing to drive up things including solar, wind and other renewables, as well as oil and natural gas. What’s more, in a post-COVID-19 era, Afreximbank stood with Africans, assessing communities that are at risk and made sure vaccinations were provided,” Ayuk continued.
“Whether a youth-powered AfCFTA will trigger a continental economic explosion or whether the next decades will become ‘Lost Decades’ for Africa will depend on how we creatively deploy the energies and talents of the continent’s youth to implement the AfCFTA,” Prof. Oramah concluded.