22 September 2017

Africa: Afreximbank to Mobilise U.S.$1 Billion for Region's Trade

Photo: The New Times
Smale-scale traders at the Rubavu-Goma border post transact business (file photo).

Multilateral trade financier African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is seeking to mobilise up to $1 billion in equity from new and existing investors over the next five years to finance more trade deals on the continent.

The bank hopes to disburse $90 billion for industrialising Africa, boosting trade among countries as well as with the world in an era of rising protectionism.

World Bank data shows that intra-African trade has increased over the past decade, currently accounting for about 15 per cent of the continent's total trade.

However, it remains the lowest of any continent, considering that intra-trade in Asia and Europe stands at 50 per cent and 70 per cent respectively.

Afreximbank has launched the capital drive in Nigeria and Kenya, seeking to raise $300 million through the issuance of depositary receipts. The minimum investment amount is $30,000.

"The depositary receipts will be listed on the Mauritius Securities Exchange, enabling investors to benefit from a liquid and freely transferable instrument said Afreximbank executive vice-president George Elombi.

An advisory syndicate made up of SBM Group of Mauritius as lead arranger and Kenya-based CBA Capital and Lions Head Capital as co-advisors will handle the issuance.

According to Afreximbank, the size of intra-African trade could be doubled from the current $170 billion per year to almost $400 billion.

The level of intra-Africa trade compares poorly with Europe, where it is estimated at a staggering $6 trillion.

Apart from financing setbacks, the lack of market information on the continent has also been cited as a key impediment to the growth of intra-Africa trade.

Established in 1993 with the main objective of financing and promoting intra and extra African trade, Afreximbank shareholding mainly comprises of African governments, African private and institutional investors and non-African investors.

The lender has approved more than $51 billion in credit facilities for African businesses, including about $10.3 billion in 2016. By the end of last year, the bank boasted a total asset base of $12 billion.

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