According to Dr. George Elombi, Executive Vice President, Corporate Governance and Legal Services at African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), the 2021 Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) is expected to produce more than US$40 billion in trade and investment deals.
Elombi made the announcement at a roadshow in Lagos in advance of the 2nd IATF, which will take place in Durban, South Africa, from November 15 to November 21, 2021.
He said the IATF was critical in advancing African integration and the goals of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which is one of the Afreximbank’s primary mandates.
According to him, AfCFTA has become a framework for African economic recovery in the context of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Elombi said factors such as market fragmentation, lack of economies of scale, reliance on the export of primary commodities, under-developed regional value chains, and tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade had adversely affected the growth of Africa’s trade.
This, he noted, had resulted in a very low percentage of intra-African trade, averaging around 15 per cent and continuously subjecting Africa’s growth and development to external forces.
“Nigeria is the largest economy in Sub-Saharan Africa, representing about 17 per cent of the African Economy and about 64 per cent of the economy of West Africa by Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“Notably, as at 2020, Nigeria’s imports from the African region relative to total imports was at 7 per cent, while the share of Nigeria’s exports to the African region relative to total exports was at 20 per cent.
“For those reasons, and many more, Nigeria stands to benefit the most from an intra African trade fair, an event intended to enhance the trade of African states among themselves, and to meet the objectives of Agenda 2063 as declared by African Heads of State.
“Over years, the bank has supported and facilitated trade and investments in Nigeria through its array of financial and non-financial instruments.
“The Bank has approved over US$26 billion in support of Nigerian public and private sector entities and is currently implementing several of its flagship continental initiatives in Nigeria.
“Some of these initiatives include the development of The African Medical Center of Excellence Initiative (AMCE) in Abuja, the African Quality Assurance Center being developed in Abeokuta, Ogun State, and the Afreximbank Africa Trade Center being in Abuja,” he said.
Elombi added that the bank was committed to supporting the Nigerian economy through various funding programmes for Nigerian businesses.
He revealed that from January to August 2021, total loan approvals for Nigeria were in excess of US$1.89 billion and at the end of August 2021, the bank’s total loans exposure to Nigeria was US$5.5 billion.
“This represents 26.8 per cent share of the bank’s total loans and advances.
“For those reasons, we also think that IATF, an Afreximbank event, deserves the full support of Nigeria,” he said.
Chief Diana Chen, Chairman Choice International Group, GAC Motors, said that the Nigerian economy would grow by an additional five per cent if efforts are focused on the automotive industry.
She, however, noted the country lacked policies, good education system, skills and training to harness the opportunities of the sector.
“We need the people to be well trained so when the opportunities or investors come, they will be ready.
“Economy is a matter of confidence. If you can build the confidence of the people, the economy will grow.