Africa’s Global Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, on Monday signed an agreement with the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) secretariat to invest US$6billion as funding for African Small and Medium Enterprises within the next three years.
A breakdown of the US$6bn investment shows that a total of US$1.2bn has been budgeted for the year 2023; US$1.9bn for 2024 and US$2.88bn for 2025.
UBA signed the agreement with AfCFTA on the sidelines of the 30thAfreximbank Annual Meeting (AAM) opening ceremony that was held in Accra, Ghana on Monday.
By this agreement, UBA – with the aim of boosting intra-Africa trade, will provide financial services in four main areas – which are agro-processing, automotive, pharmaceuticals, and transport and logistics – to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in all 20 African countries where UBA operates.
Those countries are Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique, Gabon, Congo Brazzaville, Congo DRC, Chad and Cameroon.
One of the key AfCFTA Agreement initiatives focuses on improving access to finance and markets for SMEs, to encourage their growth and contribution to Africa’s socio-economic development.
UBA Group’s Deputy Managing Director, Muyiwa Akinyemi – who signed the agreement on behalf of the UBA Group, noted that as Africa’s global bank UBA remains committed to supporting SMEs in Africa – especially given its robust network which is spread across the 20 countries.
He said: “We entered into this partnership because we see the future of intra-African payments developed by AfCFTA, which will ease payment constraints across 54 countries in Africa (with about 40 different currencies) powered by the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS)”.
Continuing, Akinyemi said: “However, we need to develop these businesses before we can talk about helping them trade – which is the strength of UBA as we are vital in supporting SMEs; and with our presence in 20 African countries, we say ‘your small business is big business’.”
On his part, Secretary-General of the AfCFTA secretariat, Wamkele Mene – who spoke on the agreement with UBA, emphasised the need to catalyse Africa’s industrialisation and boost intra-Africa trade to improve the socio-economic well-being of the continent and its people, which he noted is a key factor behind the partnership.
Mene said: “The secretariat is committed to supporting SMEs as critical drivers of African economies. We recognise the financing gap SMEs face on the continent, and we intend to mitigate that gap through this important partnership. The four identified areas of support UBA will provide enables SMEs to achieve industrial-driven growth and export development in Africa, which in turn aligns with objectives of the AfCFTA”.
United Bank for Africa is one of the largest employers in the financial sector on the African continent, with 25,000 employees group-wide and serving over 35 million customers globally. Operating in 20 African countries and in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, France and the United Arab Emirates, UBA provides retail, commercial and institutional banking services – leading financial inclusion and implementing cutting-edge technology.