The African Import-Export Bank (Afreximbank), says it is collaborating with International Trade Centre (ITC), to help businesses make the most of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
This was disclosed in a statement issued on Wednesday in Abuja by Mr Amadou Sall, the Manager, Communications and Event (Media Relations), Afreximbank.
Sall said that Afreximbank would be teaming up with ITC to train small-business owners and young entrepreneurs in Africa to trade with other African countries as part of the new African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
He said the training would be focusing on how to export within the AfCFTA, a new free-trade area amid the economic strain of climate change and the Coronavirus pandemic.
According to him, the training will give business owners the knowledge and skills they need to engage effectively in cross-border trade under terms of the emerging free-trade area for Africa.
He quoted ITC Acting Executive Director, Ms Dorothy Tembo, as saying that Intra-African trade was structurally low at 15 per cent compared to Europe at nearly 70 per cent, for example.
“And the AfCFTA will open a market of 1.2 billion people.
“Against the backdrop of the current COVID-19 health and economic crisis, African micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) need support to take full advantage of the continental market.
“Through this partnership, African businesses will have the opportunity to learn, plan and succeed in growing their business by taking full advantage of the AfCFTA,” Tembo said.
Similarly, Ms Kanayo Awani, Managing Director of Afreximbank’s Intra-African Trade Initiative, said the initiative was necessary.
According to her, increasing intra-African trade through exports of goods and services by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is the cornerstone of the AfCFTA.
“It signals an optimal strategy to aid businesses and develop regional value chains, which have become more relevant with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our joint initiative with ITC is a proactive way to support the implementation of the AfCFTA and to provide SMEs with the tools to respond more effectively to the economic and social challenges presented by the global pandemic,” Awani added.
She said that the training would be conducted through ITC’s popular multilingual SME Trade Academy platform, under the auspices of the Afreximbank Academy (AFRACAD).
She further explained that the programme would be piloted in Nigeria, Rwanda, and Côte d’Ivoire and would be launched in close collaboration with trade promotion organisations of the three selected pilot countries.
“Afreximbank and ITC will work toward increasing opportunities for small-business owners to export and supporting countries to achieve their overall trade goals at the regional, continental and global levels.
“ITC is also partnering Afreximbank to support South Sudan in increasing its trade competitiveness, boosting its exports through economic diversification and creating investment opportunities through the development of a trade and investment promotion strategy
Awani noted that the promotion strategy would identify several priority sectors with a high potential for trade and increasing job opportunities, especially for women and young people.
“ITC will work with the country’s ministry of trade, investment agencies and private-sector associations to ensure the strategy provides sustainable solutions for the country’s development,’’ she said.
The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is a Pan-African multilateral financial institution with the mandate of financing and promoting intra-and extra-African trade.