South Africa, now shareholder at Afreximbank

In a demonstration of its commitment to promoting intra-African trade and economic integration, South Africa has taken up shareholding in the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), the African continental multilateral trade finance institution. DAVID AGBA reports

Africa not united

The African continent has remained like no mans’ land because of lack of socio-economic and political integration. Not only that, there appears to be no trust due to what some analysts over the years have termed the partition for and scramble for Africa as perpetrated by the colonial masters- British, Portuguese, Germany, France, Italy among others.

Several attempts have been made to forge a united front to salvage the continent but all in futility. This could be as a result of different ideas of the different leaders of the countries and governments.

 

Hope in the horizon

However, many still believe that all hope is not lost. Most of the countries are battling internal strive like Morocco trying to be a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), instead being with North African countries.

 

Battling crisis

Nigeria is battling insurgents and terror attacks that has killed many in the North-eastern part of the country. Everywhere, there is either political, economical, socio-cultural or religious crisis that shifts attention from economic growth and development.

 

South Africa as shareholder

South Africa’s entry into the Afreximbank may form the basis for the continent to heave a sigh of relief as more may join soon.

With the shareholding, South Africa becomes the 47th African country to join Afreximbank as a participating state and/or shareholder. It is being represented by the Export Credit Insurance Corporation of South Africa (ECIC) as its designated investor in line with the terms of the provisions of the Charter of the Bank.

 

Oramah’s take

“It is a significant vote of confidence to have South Africa join Afreximbank as a shareholder,” said Dr. Benedict Oramah, President of the Bank, in welcoming the news that the country had joined the Bank as a shareholder. “South Africa accounts for about 30 to 35 per cent of total intra-African trade, making its membership critical for the attainment of the Bank’s strategic goal of moving intra-African trade share of Africa’s total trade from about 15 per cent currently to 22 per cent by 2021 and raising its annual value to more than $250 billion by that year. We are confident that its membership of Afreximbank will enable it to play a significant role in driving trade across the continent.”

“We are humbled while also motivated by the trust and confidence that the South African government has placed on ECIC to assume the role of designated institution for membership of the Bank,” said Kutoane Kutoane, CEO of ECIC. “We are certain that South African exporters, especially our small and medium-sized exporters, will now have access to the expanded pool of structured trade finance facilities offered by the Bank.”

Mr. Kutoane said that ECIC intended to make the partnership mutually beneficial, adding, “this marks a watershed moment defining the era of more inclusive intra-continental trade facilitation on a grand scale”.

 

Down memory lane

South Africa was unable to join Afreximbank at the Bank’s creation in 1993 as the country was still under apartheid rule at the time.

 

Members

Countries currently on the list of Afreximbank participating and shareholding states include Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, and Lesotho. Others are Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Sao Tome and Principe, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

 

Mix of shareholders

Afreximbank shareholders are a mix of public and private entities divided into four classes and consist of African governments, central banks, regional and sub-regional institutions, private investors and financial institutions, as well as non-African financial institutions, export credit agencies and private investors.

Class “A” shareholders are African states, African central banks and African public institutions, including the African Development Bank, while Class “B” is made up of African financial institutions and African private investors.

Class “C” shares are held by non-African investors, mostly international banks and export credit agencies, including Standard Chartered Bank, HSBC, Citibank, China Exim Bank and Exim India. Class “D” shares, a tier approved in December 2012, are fully paid value shares that can be held by any investor. SBM Securities, Mauritius, is currently the only investor in this class on behalf of holders of its depository receipts which are listed on the Stock Exchange of Mauritius.

 

About Afreximbank:

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is the foremost pan-African multilateral financial institution devoted to financing and promoting intra- and extra-African trade. The Bank was established in October 1993 by African governments, African private and institutional investors, and non-African investors. Its two basic constitutive documents are the Establishment Agreement, which gives it the status of an international organization, and the Charter, which governs its corporate structure and operations. Since 1994, it has approved more than $51 billion in credit facilities for African businesses, including about $10.3 billion in 2016. Afreximbank had total assets of $11.7 billion as at 31 December 2016 and is rated BBB+ (GCR), Baa1 (Moody’s), and BBB- (Fitch). The Bank is headquartered in Cairo.