The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is working to introduce a mobile payment platform to support intra-African trade and payments, Jean-Louis Ekra, President of the Bank, announced in Lusaka.
In an address at the opening of Afreximbank’s annual Seminar/Workshop on the Fundamentals of Structured Trade Finance, Mr. Ekra said that the successful introduction of the initiative would bring over $50 billion of informal regional trade, which currently takes place on the continent, into the formal sector, with attendant benefits to governments, businesses and trade financiers.
The President, who announced that Afreximbank was working with Econet Wireless Group to develop and introduce the platform, said that mobile technology had become one of the most important instruments for the conduct of financial transactions in Africa and globally and was seen by trade practitioners as a potential instrument for supporting cross border trade and financial flows.
He stated that the Structured Trade Finance Seminar/Workshop and other events organized by the Bank were its way of contributing to addressing the trade and project finance challenges facing Africa and, in so doing, supporting trade and economic development on the continent over the long run.
Declaring open the seminar/workshop, Dr. Michael Gondwe, Governor of the Bank of Zambia, said that as Africa strove to position itself as an economic powerhouse in the years to come, it must invest in appropriate technical knowledge and skills to support its current economic growth renaissance and further enhance development prospects.
Noting the central role of trade and development in Africa’s economic revival, Dr. Gondwe said that banks had an important role to play in fostering cross-border trade, hence the need to have a breed of banks with the right knowledge and skills to support African traders in their cross-border transactions.
Also speaking, Dr. Henriquie de Azevedo, Head of Export Credit Division, Business in Africa of the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), said that with Brazil accounting for the largest concentration of people of African descent outside Africa, there was the need to strengthen financial and business connections between Africa and Brazil.
This was particularly necessary in the face of the global financial crisis for which neither Africa nor Brazil bore any responsibility, he added.
The seminar/workshop aims to equip African banks and bankers to deal with risks in financing trade and supply chain under difficult politico-economic environments and changing trade counterparties. Speakers on the opening day included Lamon Rutten, Programme Manager at the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA), Netherlands; Dr. Benedict Oramah, Executive Vice President of Afreximbank; Andrew Barr-Sim of Drum Commodities Limited, U.K.; and Simon Cook, Partner at the law firm of Sullivan and Worcester, U.K., who covered various aspects of trade finance structuring.
The seminar/workshop participants consist of senior executives from African banks and financial institutions, hedge funds, Africa country funds and venture capital institutions, corporate entities engaged in trade, manufacturing and privatized infrastructure projects, Afreximbank’s trade finance and project finance intermediaries and African law firms.
In addition to a two-day four-session seminar segment on 04 and 05 November, the event, which is being organized in cooperation with the Bank of Zambia, also includes a one-day workshop on trade and supply chain finance on 06 November. They will be followed on 07 November by a one-day workshop on factoring.