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Tag: Africa

AfDB says continent needs urgent trade finance boost

By Tanko Mohammed

Africa needs urgent financing to re-energise its trade in the continent in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a joint report has stated.

This is according to the latest trade finance report, jointly released by the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), on Sunday.

The report, titled: “Trade Finance in Africa: Trends Over the Past Decade and Opportunities Ahead”, built on two previous studies released in 2014 and 2017.

It was also based on a survey of over 600 unique commercial banks in 49 countries across Africa for 2011 to 2019.  

The report established a benchmark for trade finances in Africa before the COVID-19 crisis and recommended policy responses to the industry in the wake of the pandemic.

According to the report, only 40 per cent of Africa’s trade is bank-intermediated (goes through the formal banking system), which is a far lower share than the global average of 80 per cent.

The trade finance gap was also stated to have remained unacceptably high at 81 billion dollars in 2019.

The report found that these were some of the structural challenges that hindered banks’ abilities to effectively intermediate Africa’s trade with the world.

It also highlighted the critical role of development finance institutions in supporting the industry. 

The study also found that unintended regulatory bottlenecks were one of the key constraints driving these patterns. 

“With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the need for financing to re-energise the region’s trade is urgent.

“The good news is that Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) including the African Development Bank, are playing a more active role in supporting the trade finance industry in Africa,” the report said.

According to the report, more than half of banks engaged in trade finance activities between 2015 and 2019 received support from DFIs to expand their transactions.

Yet, DFI support was skewed toward particular sub-regions and financial intermediaries, mainly foreign-owned private banks.

The report made recommendations to boost trade finance supply in Africa.

The recommendations included,  raising awareness about the impact of strict regulatory requirements on sector intermediaries and addressing geographical and institutional differences in DFI support to the sector. 

Stefan Nalletamby, AfDB’s Director of the Financial Sector Development Department, noted that the report series had become the main reference document for the industry on the continent.  

“It reflects the Bank’s increasing thought leadership role on this important subject.

“We hope that the findings of this report will motivate policymakers and industry experts to devise and implement strategies in fragile states and low income countries to make trade finance more accessible to African traders, especially SMEs in fragile states and low income countries,” he  said.

AfDB chief voices optimism about Africa’s future

By Tanko Mohammed

Newly re-elected African Development Bank AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina voiced great optimism about Africa’s future as the institution closed its 55th Annual meetings.

The Bank’s Board of Governors today unanimously voted for a second five-year term for Adesina, giving him a mandate to renew a focus on the institution’s priorities, including closer continental integration, boosting renewable energy sources and developing infrastructure. 

The election of the president was the centrepiece of the two-day meetings, held virtually for the first time in the Bank’s history amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic formed a backdrop that underscored the Bank’s critical leadership role in assisting African countries to marshal responses to its health and economic impacts.

A wider commitment to grow Africa’s resilience by building back its economies post-pandemic with an eye to mitigating climate change and assuring more equitable growth, is also an important agenda for the Bank.

In a 16-point communique, Governors lauded the Bank’s swift response to the pandemic, endorsed its strategic priorities, and urged greater emphasis on building out primary healthcare infrastructure and supporting member countries meet their Paris Agreement commitments. 

“We urge the Bank Group to deepen its collaboration with the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to fast-track Africa’s integration and economic and social transformation particularly in view of the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area, which has the potential to increase growth, enhance competitiveness, improve the business climate, as well as ensure greater investment and development of regional and continental global value chains,” the communique stated. 

In closing remarks, Chairperson of the Board of Governors, Niale Kaba, the Ivorian Minister of National Planning, noted the Governors achieved consensus.

“I note with satisfaction that we were able together to face up to all of these challenges. Let me seize this opportunity to tell you this was the outcome of collective work and I was able to benefit from the wise advice of many regional and non-regional governors for us to be able to reach a common ground.”

Kaba also observed that the meeting’s virtual format had deprived Cote d’Ivoire of the opportunity to showcase its beauty to visitors. The Minister, whose term as Chairperson has come to an end, commended Bank Secretary General Vincent Nhemielle for his partnership and dynamism in organizing the meetings virtually.

She also congratulated Adesina on his re-election. He is the Bank’s eighth elected president and the first Nigerian to hold the post.

“I am deeply grateful for the collective trust, strong confidence and support of our shareholders for electing me for a second term as President,” Adesina said.

“It is yet another call for selfless service to Africa and the African Development Bank, to which I will passionately devote myself. “I look forward to working closely with each and every one of you for the urgent and difficult task of supporting Africa to build back better, smarter and boldly from the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Adesina’s first term focused on the High 5 priorities: Light up and Power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialize Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the Quality of Life for the People of Africa.

Bank Governors are typically the finance and economy ministers or Central Bank Governors of the 54 African regional member countries and 27 non-regional member countries.

Ghana’s Foreign Minister Kenneth Ofori-Atta assumed the Chairmanship of the Board of Governors from Niale. “It is with great honor and humility that I accept on behalf of the Republic of Ghana to chair the Board of Governors and host the Annual Meetings for 2021,” Ofori-Atta said.

The 2021 Annual meetings will be held next May in Accra, Ghana.

Kenya launches plan to cushion Shilling

The Central Bank of Kenya has launched an aggressive dollar-purchase plan to cushion the shilling after the IMF failed to give an assurance over renewal of the suspended $1.5 billion standby credit facility.

A delegation of the International Monetary Fund failed to announce a renewal of the standby loan after concluding a visit to Nairobi on Wednesday.

“Discussions will continue in the coming period,” said the IMF statement indicating that there were unresolved differences with the government.

“Technical work will continue to firm up underpinnings of the plan, which could be supported by a Fund arrangement,” it concluded.

The three-year standby loan is intended to protect the Kenyan shilling against external shocks and raise the country’s credibility in the eyes of international lenders.

The Central Bank (CBK), on the same day that the IMF team concluded its mission in the country, issued a circular to all chief executives of commercial banks announcing that it would start buying US dollars from the lenders to boost its foreign exchange reserves. The regulator committed to buy up to $100 million each month from commercial banks, for a three-month period (March-June).

“The minimum amount for these purchases will be $1 million, and will be transacted at the prevailing market rate and at CBK’s discretion,” said William Nyagaka, the bank’s director, financial markets department.


Ghana hosts Africa Music Awards

The International Committee of All Africa Music Awards, AFRIMA, and The African Union Commission, AUC, have announced the programme for the biggest music event in Africa, the 5th AFRIMA-Ghana 2018 holding in Accra, Ghana in November.
The event will begin from Wednesday, November 21 and end Saturday, November 24 under the theme ‘Africa is Gold’.
Ghana was unveiled as the 5th AFRIMA Official Host Country by the AUC on September 5 at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Subsequently, the Republic of Ghana accepted the Official Host Country rights on Tuesday, September 11 during a media event held at the Kempinski Hotel, Gold Coast City Accra
and attended by top Ghanaian government officials led by the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Ghana, Catherine Afeku.
Kicking off the back-to-back exhilarating events programme for the 5th AFRIMA on November 21 is the AFRIMA Welcome Soiree, a reception in honour of arriving AFRIMA nominees and delegates, African Union officials, members of the International Committee of AFRIMA, media and other invited guests.
This will be followed by the Africa Music Business Summit (AMBS) on November 22 at the Ballroom, Kempinski Hotel, Gold Coast City, Accra, between 8.30 a.m. and 4.30 p.m.
To be held under the theme “African Music in a Global Village: Leveraging the Opportunities”, the annual AMBS is a panel discussion platform to interrogate and strategize on the business of music in Africa while charting a synergistic way forward for development and economic empowerment for the music talents.
It is a platform for business networking and interaction among music professionals, music executives, government officials and other stakeholders in the music, media and financial
sectors of Africa while discussing the potentials present in the continent’s music industry and ways to harness its socio-economic gains.
On the same day, at the AFRIMA Music Village, lovers and fans of African music are in for high octane performances by upcoming and A-list artistes from across the continent in a festival-style music concert which holds at the 100,000-capacity Independence Square, Accra, from 5.00 p.m. till dawn.
The event will be broadcast live on dedicated satellite event channels.
In a bid to showcase the cultural and historical dynamism of the host city, invited guests will be treated to a tour of landmarks and sights of Accra on Friday, November 23. This will
be followed by the Nominee’s Party from 10.00 p.m.
The live broadcast Main Awards Ceremony on Saturday, November 24 will have in attendance high profile guests from across the continent and the Diaspora.
Scheduled for the Accra International Conference Centre, AICC, Ghana, by 7.30 p.m., the star-studded awards show will begin with the live-broadcast red carpet at 4.30 p.m. where all the glam, glitz and high fashion of the 5th AFRIMA-Ghana 2018 will be on display.
The awards ceremony to be broadcast to 84 countries on 105 partner media channels will also feature a potpourri of performances from some 2018 AFRIMA nominees, past award winners, and special guest artistes.
Wrapping up the programme is the 5th AFRIMA After-Party at the Pool Bar, Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast, Accra, Ghana.
Expressing her excitement at the coming events, Catherine Afeku said: “On behalf of His Excellency, the President of Ghana and the people of the Republic of Ghana, the Ministry
of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Ghana welcomes African artistes, African media and event delegates to the 5th All Africa Music Awards, AFRIMA-Ghana 2018.
“We take pride in ourselves in hosting this continental awards between November 21 and 24 which is consistent with our national development agenda to the growth of culture and the creative arts. We project a boost to the tourism economy of Ghana and the creation of opportunities for artists and investors in the culture and creative arts industry of Ghana.
“We expect more of such opportunities to be created in the national economy as we host AFRIMA events in the coming years.
“This will become one of the vehicles to deepen the collaboration between the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and the Africa Union to drive the Government’s transformation
agenda. We look forward to welcoming you with the warm Ghanaian hospitality, Akwaaba!”
In partnership with the African Union Commission, AFRIMA seeks to reward Africa’s music talents living on the continent or in the diaspora.
It stimulates conversations among Africans and between Africa and the rest of the globe about the great potentials and values of the African musical and artistic heritage for the purpose of creating jobs, reducing poverty.
It calls the attention of world leaders to Africa and promoting the positive image of Africa to the world for global competitiveness.

ECOWAS team validates empowerment strategy

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) study team has validated and adopted the report of the organisation’s study group on the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS).
Mr Pathe Gueye, Chairman of the ratification and Commissioner for Infrastructure, ECOWAS Commission, charged member states on the domestication of the policy.
The ratification which took place in Lagos focused on regional capacity building on ship and port facility.
The chairman said the aim of the study was to promote the commission’s regional integration agenda particularly in the area of ensuring peace, security and economic integration through a security threat-free seaborne trade.
“Free movement of people within the sub-region should be encouraged mostly as it concerns commerce which bolsters intra-human relationship.
“The validation workshop have been fruitful in that it has provided a prelude to an optimistic regional blueprint for the full implementation of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) to the universal standard.
“Security on our waters have become a menace that we need to put heads together and think outside the box for a permanent solution before it engulfed us all,”Gueye said.
He called on member states to apply the certified policy on regional maritime development as an antidote for the common good as regards coastal security.
Dr Dakuku Peterside, Director-General of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), a guest at the event said the agency was  in 2013 appointed to oversee the implementation of the ISPS Code in Nigeria.
Peterside said that the agency with the help of international partners like the US Coast Guard, the International Maritime Organisation and others had been building human and material capacity.