Uche Usim, Abuja

The number of African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) member countries swelled to 50 on Wednesday, with the Central African Republic (CAR) formalising her membership by depositing the instrument of the country’s ratification of the Bank Establishment Agreement in Cairo, Egypt.

Speaking during a ceremony at the bank’s headquarters, Claude Rameaux Bireau, Minister of State and Economic Adviser to the president, who led a five-member delegation, said that the Central African Republic had very high expectations from Afreximbank and looked forward to strengthened cooperation with the institution.

Bireau said that CAR would move quickly to take up shareholding in the bank and announced that the government was already working with the African Development Bank to support in that regard.

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He added that the country would participate in the Intra-African Trade Fair, which was being organised by Afreximbank in collaboration with the African Union. The trade fair will take place in Cairo from December 11- 17.

Earlier, Prof. Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank stated, disclosed that the bank was created to support African countries in both good times and bad times and that the ratification of the Agreement by the Central African Republic would make it possible for it to effectively do business in the country.

“The ratification grants us the special privileges and immunities that make it possible for us to take the risks that other commercial banks cannot,” Prof. Oramah explained.

He announced that the Afreximbank had been reviewing six projects, which the country had identified as priorities in order to see how to support them, saying that CAR, with her rich resources, could be an investors’ paradise if well marketed.

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CAR had initiated the process of joining the bank on 28 November 2017, when it presented an instrument of accession to the Bank Agreement to Prof. Oramah when he met with President Faustin-Archange Touadéra in Bangui.

Under the terms of the Agreement for the Establishment of the Bank, which was signed by the participating states in Abidjan on May 8, 1993, countries that did not sign on before it entered into force are required to first issue an instrument of acceptance and accession and then proceed to formally ratify the agreement in order to fully activate their membership of the bank.

Membership of the bank gives the CAR automatic access to the full range of products and facilities offered by Afreximbank, including trade finance facilities, project finance services, trade information and advisory services, support in the development of a local content policy and assistance in developing and implementing industrial parks and special economic zones.

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There are 50 countries currently on the list of Afreximbank participating and shareholding states, including Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde and Chad. Others are CAR, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, and Lesotho.

Countries like Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Sao Tome and Principe, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe are part of the bank.

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.

Also on the delegation were Clement Bilege, Ambassador of Central African Republic to Egypt; Jean Jules Jos, Former Minister of State in charge of Programmes at the Presidency and Batolo Mathiu and Amadou Issa of the Embassy of Central African Republic in Cairo.

Participating in the ceremony from Afreximbank were Dr. George Elombi, Executive Vice President, Governance Legal and Corporate Services; Amr Kamel, Executive Vice President, Business Development and Corporate Banking; Rene Awambeng, Global Head, Client Relations; Obi Emekekwue, Global Head, Communications and Events Management; Gerald Chihota, Head of Board Secretariat and Jacqueline Clarisse Motsebo of the Board Secretariat.