The annual meetings of the Africa Export Import Bank, which coincides with the 30th anniversary of the pan-African development finance institution will be held in Accra, the bank announced at a press launch in Ghana’s capital. The year long anniversary celebrations are being marked under the theme “delivering the vision; building prosperity for Africans. First set up to support and boost trade in Africa, the bank has become one of the most significant institutions in the continent and one of the key drivers of economic integration and industrialisation in Africa. Between 2016 and 2021, the bank disbursed over $86bn for projects in member states. The choice of Accra, the bank said, is based on the strong ties with the country, which was one of the founding members and the beneficiary of the first ever transaction concluded by the bank. The meetings will be held between 18th June and 22nd June, 2023.
In his welcome address, Mohammed Amin Adam, minister of state at Ghana’s ministry of finance, who chaired the occasion, emphasised the country’s deep ties with Afreximbank and said it was privileged to host the celebrations in the same year that the African Union has declared to be the year of the African Continental FreeTrade Agreement. He expressed the hope that the meetings would generate the momentum to propel the effective implementation of the trade agreement and that would contribute to the achievement of the AU’s Agenda 63 – the Africa we want. Adam said that it was important to improve trade in Africa, which accounts for 3 percent globally and 16 percent internally, to combat global shocks which had further exacerbated its vulnerabilities. Afriiexim’s role in providing finance, and access to trade information will be crucial to efforts to boost Africa trade, the minister said and called for increased support for the bank. “In Afrieximbank, we have an institution with convening power and a network of resources to significantly contribute to the search for solutions to our challenges,” he said, He lauded the bank for growing its portfolio from an initial $5bn to $27,7bn as of September 2022, with a net loan portfolio between $20bn and 23bn.
Adam said the meetings and the celebration offer an opportunity to renew member states’ dedication to the vision behind the founding of the bank, which was to build shared prosperity for all Africans. For Ghana, it will also be an opportunity to convey its appreciation for the support of the bank, especially in 2022, when in the face of severe economic challenges, Afriexim was the only bank willing to support the country, extending a $750m facility to it. “We are truly thankful to Afriexim for coming through for us,” he added. The bank’s support over the years has enabled the country to undertake key projects in health, education, financial services and trade. Private sector financial institutions have also benefited from the bank’s support. He assured the bank that Ghana will spur no effort to ensure the successful organisation of the meetings, which will draw over 150 shareholders, several heads of state and representatives from local and international organisations. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo will deliver the keynote address during the opening session. “We look forward to providing a platform where we can deliberate and seek African solutions for African problems,” he concluded.
Ernest Addison, governor of the central bank of Ghana, paid tribute to Benedict O. Oramah, president and chairman of Afrieximbank’s board, for his unflinching support for Ghana, especially during its recent moment of difficulty. The bank, he said, had partnered with Ghana and the central bank in the launch of the Pan African Payment and Settlement Systems, which would save the continent over $5bn in transaction fees annually and boost the implementation of the AfCTFA. Afriexim has also helped set up the MANSA platform and trained officials of local banks to use the platform, which enables banks to assess the creditworthiness of clients around the continent. He recalled that Ghana had last year decided to purchase additional shares in the bank with its dividend payments, further cementing its status as a “class A” shareholder of the bank. Ghana, Addision added, is also grateful for the placements that it is able to do with the bank and the swap lines it has with the bank that helps the bank manage foreign reserves.
Benedict Oramah thanked the government of Ghana for accepting to host the meetings despite the country;s challenge, which he said was proof of its commitment to Afriexim and further indication of its consistent support for pan-African causes since its independence and leading role in the movement. The choice of Ghana itself was influenced by the country’s year of return in 2019, which saw Ghana welcoming members of the African diaspora to mark the arrival of the first slave ship in America. “Ghana has offered itself as a home for Africans wherever they may be and Afriexim bank puts itself as an institution for Africans wherever they may be,” Oramah emphasised. Oramah praised Ghana for its prompt response to the bank’s drive to increase its capital despite the post-pandemic economic challenges, adding that the country’s pioneering role was instrumental in the success of the exercise.
Fittingly, the June meetings will also be the first for what the bank refers to as global Africa, where representatives of Caribbean countries would be present, following their decision to join the bank in 2022. “We are proud to do this in the home of the African who led the fight for independence not only on paper, but of our minds, from the colonial legacy we inherited.” Oramah thanked President Akufo Addo for extending invitations to leaders in the Caribbean in addition to those from Africa, who are expected to join business leaders, representatives of international multilateral institutions and non-governmental organisations, academics. operators and small and medium sized enterprises and a total of about 3000 delegates who will attend the meetings.
The choice of the theme, Oramah observed, is informed by the bank’s role over the three decades of existence in promoting intra-African trade and investment. He said the bank’s role in procuring vaccines for Covid-19, was a testament to the vision of the bank’s founding fathers. “In a moment of poly-crises where some parts of the world are becoming increasingly insular, it is Afreximbank and similar institutions that are beginning to stand up for the continent and provide the support that we need to weather the storms. He called for the celebration of African institutions and added that the meetings “wlll provide an opportunity to confront challenges recommit Africans towards the attainment of the African vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful continent, driven by its citizens, representing a dynamic force in the international arena”.
Oramah later fielded questions from the media, where he emphasised the bank’s continued leadership and committed to continuing to work closely with African leaders and institutions to pursue the goals of economic integration, industrialisation and improved trade,