Afreximbank announces US$3m COVID-19 response grant for African countries

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Prof Benedict Oramah, President Afreximbank

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has announced a US$3-million grant to complement continental efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Afreximbank President Prof. Benedict Oramah, who made the announcement in Cairo, said that the grant was in response to a request by African heads of state, through the auspices of the African Union Chair Person, Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, for the mobilization of resources to address the pandemic.

He said that a significant proportion of the grant would go to the COVID-19 Special Fund set up by the African Union (AU) as well as to the African Center for Disease Control (Africa CDC).

“We hope that our modest contribution will help to address some of the immediate needs. We encourage other African banks, funds, corporations and charitable organisations to also contribute to the relief effort,” said Prof. Oramah, who noted that Afreximbank was working with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the AU to help mobilise grant funding for the COVID-19 mitigation responses.

Highlighting the need for wide institutional support for the COVID-19 response effort, he said that “no one country or institution will be able to rise to the challenge of the pandemic on its own.”

Afreximbank’s grant support comes in addition to several initiatives the Bank is taking to support the effort in fighting the pandemic, such as the $3-billion Pandemic Trade Impact Mitigation Facility (PATIMFA), which was launched in March, to help African countries deal with the economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bank has also set aside an amount of $200 million for use in financing the production of COVID-19 equipment and supplies within Africa.

President Oramah said that the resource constraints and urgent nature of interventions on the ground required significant grant financing to ensure timely support for emergency interventions in combating the pandemic.

Afreximbank has a history of intervening in support of African countries in times of crisis. In November 2014, the Bank contributed $1 million to the effort to combat the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease which affected several countries in West Africa. In 2019, Afreximbank donated $1.5 million to countries in Southern Africa to support relief efforts for victims of Tropical Cyclone Idai

COVID 19: Intra African Trade Fair slated for September in Rwanda postponed

The second Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2020) initially scheduled for September 1 – 7 2020 in Kigali, Rwanda has been put off to  September 2021.

The organisers of the biannual trade event African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), the African Union (AU) and the host of the this year’s event the Government of Rwanda have decided to postpone by one year because of COVID 19.

The decision was endorsed by the IATF2020 Advisory Council during its sixth meeting held virtually on recently, after careful assessment of the situation.

Organised by Afreximbank in collaboration with the AU, the second IATF will still be hosted by the Government of Rwanda and is now scheduled to take place from 6 to 12 September 2021 in Kigali. It will now be dubbed IATF2021.

Afreximbank President Prof. Benedict Oramah said that the continuing COVID-19 pandemic situation was not conducive to holding such an important pan African event which was initially scheduled to take place in just 4 months.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Governments, corporations and individuals to take unprecedented measures to ensure public safety,” he said. “It is our responsibility to comply with these measures to protect our host country and ensure the health and safety of all delegates, exhibitors and participants who have confirmed or expressed interest in taking part in the second edition of IATF.”

Stressing the need to enable participants to fully benefit from the opportunities offered by the trade fair, Amb. Albert Muchanga, Commissioner for Trade and Industry of the African Union said that the postponement would allow stakeholders to focus on the urgent collective task of responding to the pandemic.

“We are facing an unprecedented health crisis. This is the time to join efforts to also mitigate the impact of the pandemic on African economies. We have agreed that the second IATF needed to take place in a more favourable context to enable African countries and companies to take full advantage of the Trade Fair, which will now become an element of their recovery strategy,” said Amb. Muchanga.

Soraya Hakuziyaremye, Minister of Trade and Industry of Rwanda reiterated the commitment of the government of Rwanda to the success of the trade fair.

“The reality we are confronted with today as we fight the spread of Covid-19 has prompted us to look at various factors which will undoubtedly impact African businesses and investors this year. In partnership with Afreximbank and the AU Commission, Rwanda is looking forward to the second IATF in 2021 to boost intra African trade, which is more than ever crucial to the development of our continent,” Hon. Hakuziyaremye said.

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, IATF Advisory Council Chairman and former President of Nigeria said: “We offer sincere condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of all those who have lost their lives because of the coronavirus. We also wish all those who have been affected by the virus speedy recovery. We hope that this pandemic will soon be overcome to enable normal businesses to resume and underpin the forthcoming Trade Fair.”

The Advisory Council also decided to postpone the third edition of IATF from 2022 to 2023 to be in line with the two-year intervals between IATF events.

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