Africa: All Hands Must Be On Deck to Make AfCFTA Work – Prof. Oramah

Cairo — Professor Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), has urged key stakeholders in Africa to ensure that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is utilised to promote intra-African trade.

He emphasised that the continent’s dream of industrialisation could only be realised if the AfCFTA was used to promote trade among African countries

“I say this because working with the African Union Commission and the AfCFTA Secretariat, Afreximbank has supported the delivery of critical AfCFTA-enabling instruments,” he said at the Presidential Summit held under the ongoing third Intra-African Trade Fair which took place here on Monday.

The President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah al Sisi, was the guest of honour at the event.

“The Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) is set up and running and, in fact, being demonstrated here at the Fair. Eleven African central banks and 81 commercial banks have joined the System, making intra-African payments quicker, cheaper, more efficient and in African currencies. Afreximbank supports PAPSS with a settlement and clearing fund of $3 billion,” he said.

He said the African Collaborative Transit Guarantee Scheme had commenced operations in the COMESA Region, with Afreximbank as the regional guarantor, making the movement of goods across Africa’s 110 multiple borders easier, faster, and cheaper.

Prof. Oramah explained that the combination of the PAPSS and the Transit Scheme would reduce the foreign currency cost of paying for transit bonds.

The AfCFTA Adjustment Fund, he said, had been established and would be operational by early next year on the $1 billion Afreximbank had approved in support.

“Today, we have added to our various AfCFTA-enabling initiatives when we launch Afreximbank Intra-African Engineer, Procure, and Construct Contract Promotion Programme, an initiative which seeks to empower African companies to successfully bid for, win and execute infrastructural contracts in Africa through capacity building, twinning, market access opportunities, financing, guarantees and technology solutions,” he said.

The initiative, he noted, would help African contractors to participate in the 60 billion US dollar annual infrastructure investments within Africa, unlike the current practice where most of the contracts go to non-African entities.

Mr Wamkele Mene, Secretary General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, commended Egypt for hosting the IATF for the second time and for supporting the implementation of the AfCFTA

He noted that Egypt had taken the lead in establishing the AfCFTA Trading Company which aimed to strengthen ties among the member countries of the AfCFTA.

Mr Mene announced that a protocol for investment was in place and that efforts were being made to establish an investment protocol which would assist in the development of the Pan-African Trade Investment Agency to facilitate investments across the continent

Mr Albert Muchanga, African Union Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry and Minerals, said that intra-African trade and the AfCFTA were the gateway to prosperity for the countries of Africa.

Chief OlusegunObasanjo, Chairman of the IATF2023 Advisory Council and former President of Nigeria, said that the IATF had been a success to date, recording significant milestones, including the introduction of the African Buyers Programme, in the thrust to promote greater trade among African nations.

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