The success of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will rest significantly on the ability of the continent’s private sector to generate or create the goods that will enter the trade. This was made known by the president of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) Benedict Oramah on Monday 30 April while addressing Egyptian business leaders at a breakfast organized in Cairo.
Oramah, however, said it would also depend on how the private sector in one market is able to identify and realize opportunities in other markets.
He highlighted the need for the private sector to take advantage of the opportunities that the CFTA would offer, arguing that Egypt, with its relatively advanced industrial base, could serve as a viable manufacturing hub and a major source of technologies for most of the continent. Its nearness to major markets in Africa also offers a tremendous opportunity for accessing the abundant raw materials and other intermediate goods from other African countries for further processing and export at competitive rates to other markets.
Oramah told the business leaders that Afreximbank could “assist you with information, market intelligence, and financing, which will enable you to take advantage of the opportunities that are emerging as a result of the AfCFTA.”
He also said Afreximbank is working actively with the African Union Commission to ensure the realization of the goals of the AfCFTA. Over the past few years, Afreximbank had championed the growth of trade and investment flows between Egypt and the rest of Africa, providing about $5 billion in trade financing to Egyptian entities in the last three years and launching a $500-million Egypt-Africa Trade Promotion Programme in 2015, partly in response to the strategic move by the Egyptian Government to expand trade with Africa and promote regional integration under the Tripartite Free Trade Area.
The Bank also, recently, signed a $500-million financing package with the Export Development Bank of Egypt for financing Egyptian exports into Africa, he continued.
Afreximbank had made it possible for an Egyptian exporter of heavy infrastructure equipment to compete effectively with global players in African markets, enabling it to export equipment worth hundreds of millions of dollars to more than five African countries in the past three years, added Oramah. It had also supported Egyptian engineering firms to win construction contracts in Nigeria, Kenya, Togo and Angola, despite competition from international players.