Participants in the sensitization meetings.
Limited knowledge about trade opportunities in African countries was among the biggest impediments to intra-African trade, Amr Kamel, the Executive Vice President for Business Development and Corporate Banking at the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), has said.
Speaking on Saturday during a panel discussion at the Africa 2017 Forum, organized in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, Mr. Kamel said that contrary to the popular view that lack of infrastructure was the biggest challenge to intra-African trade, such trade was actually being held back mainly because people in one African country lacked information about trade opportunities in other African countries.
He noted, for instance, that a recent study co-sponsored by Afreximbank showed that some African countries were importing certain products at high cost from outside Africa while the same products were available at much lower costs in nearby African countries.
Mr. Kamel said that the fact that Africa was able to support the current level of overall trade with its existing infrastructure meant that infrastructure was not necessarily the issue but rather the challenge was how to make more of that trade intra-African.
He expressed satisfaction that African countries were gradually beginning to realize that intra-African trade held the key to Africa’s development.
Mr. Kamel announced that Afreximbank was building certification centres in an attempt to help address the issue of the quality of goods produced in African countries. Having the goods certified to international standards would make them acceptable exports into the international markets.
Timothy McPherson Jr., Minister of Finance of Jamaica, said that the African Diaspora was key to the continent’s integration as its members thought of investment in Africa in terms of the entire continent rather than segmenting it into countries and regions.
Afreximbank:The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is the foremost pan-African multilateral financial institution devoted to financing and promoting intra- and extra-African trade. The Bank was established in October 1993 by African governments, African private and institutional investors, and non-African investors. Its two basic constitutive documents are the Establishment Agreement, which gives it the status of an international organization, and the Charter, which governs its corporate structure and operations. Since 1994, it has approved more than $51 billion in credit facilities for African businesses, including about $10.3 billion in 2016. Afreximbank had total assets of $11.7 billion as at 31 December 2016 and is rated BBB+ (GCR), Baa1 (Moody’s), and BBB- (Fitch).