Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President and Chairman of, Board of Directors of Afreximbank
The African Export-Import Bank, AFREXIMBANK, and the United States Export-Import Bank, EXIMBANK, have jointly signed a $500million Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, to promote trade, investment, and especially to boost intermodal transportation in the African continent with the view to offering special support for enhanced air connectivity.
Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank, made the disclosure in a chat with the News Agency of Nigeria on the sidelines of the just concluded US-Africa Leaders’ Summit.
Oramah said the renewed partnership by the two banks would engender robust support for trade and economic integration in Africa by providing support for other technical elements and facilitating strategic investments in healthcare.
He explained that the MoU would also facilitate power, and infrastructure for intermodal transportation which includes rail, road, and aviation projects, as well as investments in renewable energy projects.
Prof. Oramah enthused, “We will use our platform and relationship to promote the creation of regional supply chains by supporting transportation, rail and road infrastructure, healthcare, and renewable energy.
He added that the partnership will inspire the support of “diaspora engagements, especially the creative industry, which is something we have as a priority and the U.S. government also has as a priority”.
Oramah said further that “we expect this engagement we have had will promote the work we are doing to support the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA) and it will make it possible for us to support industries to bring in heavy equipment and capital goods needed to create manufacturing capacity”.
He described the U.S. market as the largest in the world, saying that by improving relations and creating opportunities for trade, Africa could have access to help pull billions of people out of poverty, as it did Asia.
He stated that “U.S. is the country’s largest pool of capital. By creating the environment to attract this capital, we are going to be able to support the kind of investments that will enable us to do value addition in our continent, especially solid minerals and agriculture products.
Oramah volunteered, “It will help us to push ahead as a trade destination hub for venturing into the US, given the fracturing of the global supply chain that we are beginning to witness. Africa has a large diaspora in the US,’’ he said.
Oramah said it was a good thing that President Joe Biden’s administration had issued an executive order to strengthen African diaspora engagement.
He said that diaspora sources of foreign direct investment, marginal remittances, and skills were also market for us, noting that the banks would fully leverage the benefits of a large pool of African diaspora here.
The Afreximbank Chairman quipped, “just as the Jews have done, just as the Indians have done; we are the only ones who have not used our diaspora in a way that it is a win-win for both parties,’’ the president said.
Speaking on the benefits of the MoU to Nigeria, Oramah said Nigeria has a large market because of its huge population, noting that the youth population in Nigeria alone is a huge source of labour that could promote products for the US market.
He added “the U.S. and Nigerian markets are not far apart. Nigeria can be a good destination for the U.S. and that can boost the economy and create jobs, create technology transfer, and support capacity building.
Oramah noted, “Nigeria is the largest source of the diaspora in the US. So, with this engagement, we are able to leverage the pool of the diaspora we have in the U.S and we are also going to attract more capital for the US into Nigeria.’’
According to him, Nigeria stands the opportunity of gaining so much from the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
“So, Nigeria can be the industrial base that will attract manufacturing investments from the U.S. apart from also being a potential market for our goods”
Oramah said, “we see AFCFTA as a source of foreign direct investment and diaspora remittances. Moreover, AFCFTA is a source of skills and also to help us use raw materials efficiently, in terms of adding value, and building strong manufacturing capacity which is what we are fighting for.”
NAN reports that Oramah and Ms. Reta Lewis, President and Chair of the Board of Directors, of U.S. Exim Bank, signed the MoU on behalf of the two banks.