The president and chairman of the board of directors of African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Benedict Oramah has unveiled the significant strides made in trade and investment relations between Africa and the Caribbean.
“Just over a year ago, we began that journey convinced that only we could transform the fortunes of our lands… All of us from Africa and the Caribbean, at this moment more than at any other time in history, hold a firm conviction that determined action can grant us the economic emancipation and the true dignity we deserve,” Oramah said at the second AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF 2023) in Georgetown, Guyana.
In highlighting the achievements of the past year, Oramah celebrated the unity of the two regions, saying: “In just under a year, 11 of the 15 CARICOM member states had signed the Partnership Treaty… Afreximbank opened a Caribbean Office in Barbados, and it has begun operations.”
He acknowledged the shared journey of the two regions, referencing the great Marcus Garvey: “Chance has never yet satisfied the hope of a suffering people. Action, self-reliance, the vision of self and the future have been the only means by which the oppressed have seen and realised the light of their own freedom.”
President Oramah also emphasised that these achievements represent the beginning of an even greater journey ahead. “As we look ahead…In a de-globalising world, small open economies will suffer if they don’t bind together, and there can be no better binding than that of brothers and sisters, as represented by AfriCaribbean trade and investment integration.”
Since the inaugural ACTIF held in Barbados in September 2022, the Caribbean Development Fund has become Afreximbank’s first CARICOM shareholder, and Afreximbank has implemented or progressed a range of initiatives to further AfriCaribbean linkages:
Afreximbank has approved a facility of US$1.5 billion for CARICOM states, which will increase to US$3 billion when all 15 CARICOM countries have signed the Partnership treaty. The Bank’s five trade and investment missions to CARICOM have resulted in pipeline deals totalling US$2 billion, under which critical transactions have been approved or are at final approval committee level. These include SME support and development in The Bahamas, tourism revitalisation support in Barbados, tourism projects in Grenada, renewable energy projects and trade finance in Saint Kitts and Nevis, and climate adaptation interventions in Saint Lucia.
Afreximbank’s investment promotion drive has attracted well advanced African investment interest in the Caribbean’s financial sector, fisheries, industrial parks, ports, renewable energy and tourism. Some of these deals will be signed at ACTIF 2023, and this will include the Bank’s impact investment subsidiary, the Fund for Export Development in Africa’s signing of a Framework Agreement with Access Bank Group, Nigeria, to jointly invest in the financial services sector across the Caribbean.
The bank will be running a pilot programme for the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) for CARICOM Central Banks as the payment infrastructure for CARICOM; and before the end of 2024, Afreximbank will start developing the Africa Trade Centre in Barbados as the permanent location for its Caribbean office, in addition to a hotel, trade information, conferencing and exhibition facilities.
The Forum, being hosted in Georgetown, Guyana, will continue to foster discussions, partnerships, and actionable plans to further solidify the relationship between the African and Caribbean regions.
Source: Daily Mail GH