President Kagame urges increased Intra-African Trade

President Kagame urges increased Intra-African TradeThe 24th Annual General Meeting of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) ended in Kigali on Saturday with President Paul Kagame of Rwanda saying that the many economic challenges confronting Africa should drive African countries to urgently increase trade among themselves.

“These factors should not just remain objects of reference,” he told delegates.

“Instead, they should drive us to urgently increase trade with each other, invest more within our countries and regions, and build joint infrastructure, in order to better facilitate the movement of people and goods within Africa.”

President Kagame urged African Governments and the private sector to make the most of the possibilities offered by Afreximbank, noting that, for the last two decades, the Bank had been raising money, financing strategic projects and contributing to Africa’s pursuit of prosperity and independence.

Earlier, in his report to the AGM, Bank President Dr Benedict Oramah, announced that the institution’s cumulative facility approvals had reached $50 billion, due to record approvals of $10 billion in 2016 and that the Bank’s total assets amounted to about $12 billion in 2016, following a 64 per cent increase from a year earlier.

“Loans growth quickened by about 65 per cent to reach $10 billion and constituted 87 per cent of total assets. Net income rose strongly by 32 per cent from $125 million in 2015 to $165 million in 2016 on sharply rising interest income, which increased by 30 per cent, from $372 million to $484 million. New equity injections and internal capital generation raised shareholders’ funds by 28 per cent to end 2016 at $1.63 billion,” added the President.

He said that since the last AGM, Sao Tome and Principe, Djibouti, Burundi, South Sudan and Madagascar had joined the Bank as Participating States, bringing the number of Participating States and Shareholder countries to 45. Togo, Econet Global, Locafrique of Senegal, Atlantic Financial Group, and MBCA Bank Limited of Zimbabwe also became new shareholders in the equity of the Bank.

Dr. Oramah said that the Bank had received one-notch increase in the its long term credit rating by Moody’s, from Baa2 to Baa1, as a result of a credit enhancement which the Bank implemented to strengthen the quality of buffer conferred by its callable capital.

Also speaking, Dr Peter Larose, Minister of Finance of Seychelles and Chairman of the General Meeting of Shareholders, said that despite the challenges, Afreximbank had continued to validate the wisdom of its founders who created an institution to assist the continent in trying times.

“A shining example was the Countercyclical Trade Liquidity Facility, which was developed to avail foreign currency liquidity to African central banks to cushion them from the impact of adverse economic conditions, and under which $6.45 billion was disbursed by end of 2016, going a long way in stabilizing the economies of beneficiary economies,” he said.

Dr. Larose announced that that the Bank’s Board of Directors had proposed a dividend declaration of $37.96 million to shareholders, a 32 per cent increase on the $28.82 million declared the previous year.

The meeting also featured the election of Claver Gatete, Minister of Finance of Rwanda, to take over as the new Chairman of the General Meeting of Shareholders

Activities related to the AGM began on 28 June with two days of seminars, followed on June 30 by the meeting of the Afreximbank Advisory Group on Trade Finance and Export Development in Africa. An investment forum, hosted by the Rwandese Government, and a trade exhibition also took place on 30 June, before the formal AGM on 1 July. The activities concluded with a conversation session with President Kagame.

More than 100 speakers, including ministers of trade, central bank governors, academics, African and global trade development experts, and business leaders, spoke during the four days of the Annual General Meeting and related events, which focused on the theme “unlocking Africa’s trade potential”.