President of African Export and Import Bank (AFREXIM), Professor Benedict Okey Oramah has disclosed that the bank has disbursed about $5billion COVID-19 pandemic trading path facility to help the continent support the procurement of COVID-19 materials in different countries, to help the banks and the corporations to recover from the economic shocks brought by the pandemic and this facilities has been remitted to banks, corporations and countries all over Africa.
Oramah while speaking at the 4th edition of the Osasu Show Symposium on some of the initiatives AFREXIMBank has taken in rethinking Africa, by making the continent more self-reliance and efficient, he posited that the bank has also collaborated with the African Union to initiate a COVID-19 response platform which has been able to raise up to $100million to be expanded to $600million by October through additional mobilization for the purchase of COVID-19 equipment from suppliers at a reduced negotiated pricing system referred to as the African Quota, which will be opened for African governments, hospitals and NGOs for the purchase of COVID-19 materials.
He said, “The outcome of some of that is that, so far the response fund has been able to raise more than $100million, but the target is to raise up to $600million, so there will be a launch that we would be doing in October, that will be used to help mobilise additional funding for the fund.
“But through the effort of the AU and the African CDC, the AFREXIMBank and the AU Envoy in charge of Procurement collaborated to put in place a pan-African medical supplies platform. This platform is opened to African governments, the hospitals and NGOs for the procurement of COVID-19 materials on a poll basis.
“AFREXIM Bank is providing payment services under the platform. What has happened under the platform is that through the effort of the AU Chairperson, His Excellency, President Cyril Ramaphosa and the work of AU Envoy and others, Africa has been able to negotiate what is called the African Quota from different suppliers and reduced some of the materials prices by up to 40%.
“Beyond that, AFREXIM Bank has also been doing some other things to support the continent at this time.
“We launched a pandemic trading path facility in March to help the continent support the procurement COVID-19 materials to help different countries, the banks and the corporations to recover from the economic shocks brought by the pandemic.
“As we speak, we have disbursed about $5billion under this facility and this has been remitted to banks, corporations and countries all over Africa”, he stated.
The former Executive Vice President in charge of Business Development and Corporate Banking of AFREXIM bank detailed other initiatives embarked upon by the bank in order to help African produce and build regional supply chains of COVID-19 protective equipment and test kits.
“We also launched a collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), a special facility at the level of $200million which is being made available to African corporations to enable them produce COVID-19 materials within the continent.
“This is because we found that at the height of the crisis many countries could not have access because the richer countries cornered the supply of these materials.
“It was important that we begin to build a regional supply chain so that we can produce the basic things we need like personal protective equipment, test kits and other things that are required.
“In all of these, we should continue the big thing we are pursuing and not lose sight on the focus. We must take COVID-19 as a distraction”, he said.
The Agricultural Economist who has had stint with the Nigerian Export Import Bank as Research Assistant bemoaned the setbacks the rampaging effect of COVID-19 pandemic has had on the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, which he said when eventually commenced in January will add more value to inter African trades as the use of single currency will be implemented along with other ideas initiated by the bank to stimulate inter African trade.
“The focus is the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. There was a slight disappointment because trading that was supposed to start in July but was postponed to January because of the COVID-19, but we believe by January things will be good to enable preparations, to enable countries adjust to the crisis that we have today, so that we can start the trading with the big banks.
“AFREXIM Bank is not relenting, we are preparing for this and are about to launch the Pan African payment and settlement system which will pilot in six countries including Nigeria in a couple of months and then span to the rest of Africa, it will make it possible for Africans to pay for inter African trade with local currencies.
“We have already completed the African Customer Due Diligence Repository platform and we are about to open it for subscriptions in the next couple of weeks and the Trade Information Portal is very critical for promoting trades, for opening the markets is also about to be ready just before the trading starts.
“We have also aligned with Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) to begin to offer a collaborative financing guarantee scheme, which we hope will cover the whole continent which will make it easier for goods to move across borders and make it cheaper for those goods to move across borders.
“So, we are working very hard to make sure that we put this pandemic behind us and then continue to deal with the big issue before us. Trading more and more amongst us, using trade to grow our economies, using trade to take our destiny as a continent into our hand”, he pined.