Africa needs urgency of ‘now’ to unlock potential – Nigeria’s Finance Minister

(From left to –right) Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa and President/Chairman of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank, Dr Benedict Oramah

Since the turn of the millennium, Africa has opened a new chapter with an unprecedented rate of economic growth.

However, the people of Africa have had enough of the rhetoric about Africa’s potential – and it is about time Africa leaders put those potentials into reality, Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has stated.

She said  there is an urgency of ‘now’ to act immediately and put all theories into action.

The Finance Minister further made reference to a quote by Martin Luther King, who spoke of the myth of time which suggests that “we are not ready to do certain things” and countered it with the urgency of ‘now’. This Nigerian Finance of Minister believes it is a message for Africa today and for the economy of Africa.

There is an urgency of ‘now’, there is an urgency to ‘try’, there is an urgency to ‘pioneer’, there is an urgency to ‘take risk’, there is an urgency to ‘come off the fence’ and there is an urgency to ‘stop playing safe’, she stressed.

The Nigerian Finance Minister made these striking remarks at the opening of Afreximbank’s Annual Meeting and its 25th Anniversary currently underway in Abuja, Nigeria.

In an opening address, the President & Chairman of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank, Dr. Benedict Oramah said the African Export Import Bank (Afreximbank) has disbursed over a third of the US$25billion facility meant to accelerate intra-African trade. According to him, the US$25million facility is a strategy embarked upon by the bank, and hinges on ‘create, connect and deliver’ running from 2017 to 2021.

“In the first year, we did US$8billion. Disbursements are going to support normal letters of credit and trade financing that facilitates trade between African countries,” he emphasised.

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He mentioned the support for trade in food and oil among others across Africa, as well as the development of trade parks in Cote d’Ivoire; and plans are advanced to support four parks in Nigeria, Togo, Malawi and Rwanda.

He formally announced the intra-African trade fair that has been scheduled for December 2018 in Cairo, Egypt, and will be co-organised by Afreximbank.

The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, in an address said Africa leaders are optimistic about Africa’s future because of the momentous developments over the last few months in forging a free trade area across the continent.

He disclosed that the Extraordinary African Union Summit held in Kigali in March was a watershed, with most countries on the continent signing up to the agreement on the African CFTA, saying the agreement on the Continental Free Trade Agreement represents a new dawn for Africa.

This new dawn, according to the South African President, signals the unity of purpose among Africans and the quest to work together on achieving the common goal of a prosperous and independent continent.

“I have no doubt that those of you gathered here have the requisite ability not only to deal with the economic challenges facing our continent, but also to develop practical programmes that will accelerate the pace toward meaningful regional integration,” he said.

The Afreximbank Annual Meeting (AAM) is the largest trade-focused event on the continent. This year’s event, which is currently underway in Abuja Nigeria at the Transcorp Hilton, has the overall theme of ‘Celebrating the past: Shaping the future’.

This milestone event will bring together some 2,500 business, government and international leaders from more than 60 countries to shape the future of Africa’s trade development.

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Celebrating the bank’s quarter-century – 25 years wherein Afreximbank has been at the forefront of promoting trade in Africa – will mark the bank’s pioneering work and discuss the future transformation of trade and economic development across the continent, including impacts of the recently announced African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

According to World Trade Organisation, Africa is the second-fastest growing region – with overall African trade growing by 2.1 percent in 2017. Intra-regional trade is very important to the continent; in 2017 intra-African trade grew by 8.8 percent. With a population of 1.2 billion, Africa offers one of the biggest markets for trade and investment.

The four days of events will encompass high-level strategic seminars and discussions centred on how African leaders can work with their partners to harness innovation and technology to achieve and accelerate trade, to produce real growth, and real developmental transformation.

With the continent recovering well from the last commodity price shock, the event will have an opportunity to look at key options and strategies to put the continent on a sustainable development path, powered by industrial development and regional value chains. By this, Africa will offer to the world the largest free trade market globally.

The event encompasses the Annual Meeting of the Bank’s shareholders and a meeting of the Afreximbank Advisory Group on Trade Finance and Export Development in Africa. There are quite a number of  special events lined up as part of activities to celebrate the Bank’s 25 years of successful trade banking in Africa, and a host of other attractions.

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