An Africa-Caribbean Trade and Investment Financing Facility could be on the cards.
This disclosure came today from President of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Professor Benedict Oramah, as he addressed a press conference in Barbados.
Professor Oramah said: “When we go back, we have agreed in principle that the African Export-Import Bank will put in place an initial amount of [US] $250 million in a facility we are going to call the Africa-Caribbean Trade and Investment Financing Facility.
“We will put that facility in place…. We know that if they (banks and companies) want to do business among themselves, there is financing to support it. We believe that is the first hurdle we must cross. And so, we’re going to go back and get our board to…look at it and consider it as quickly as possible.”
The President said he had “excellent” meetings with the private sector, and expected Afreximbank to be the bridge to link businesses in the Caribbean and in Africa.
He added that there was a lot of interest in getting started because the businesses were seeing the opportunity and urgency of forging ahead.
“We just finished meetings with the business people and we had meetings with the banking community here yesterday. So everybody is in a hurry to get things moving. There is already some business going on; we need to capitalise on them, so that we can give impetus to this.
“There is a need to promote tourism between Africa and the Caribbean in a direct manner, so it’s not that Africans come to the Caribbean in a roundabout way. We have to create direct relations that promote this. We have to find ways of also creating opportunities for investment for African businesses who want to invest in the Caribbean, and also for Caribbean businesses who want to invest in Africa,” he stated.
Professor Oramah expressed the view that Africa and the Caribbean must begin with the low hanging fruits and then work towards the more difficult areas.
He suggested that air and shipping links must be opened, and logistics facilities developed. He pointed out Africa was working to diversify its economy and would also work to assist in varying that of the Caribbean region.
He said the aim of his visit to Barbados was to ensure there was improvement in trade and investment opportunities.
“We cannot continue the old way because the old way has not worked for us. We have to find new ways, and finding new ways must be founded in our roots…that bind us together as brothers and sisters,” he insisted.
Meanwhile, the President said student exchanges would be promoted. “Afreximbank will be taking some Caribbean students on internships every year. We are also discussing how to attach some young entrepreneurs from the Caribbean in big African corporations and vice versa,” he disclosed.
Professor Oramah also met with Secretary-General of CARICOM, Dr. Carla Barnett, and he described those discussions as “very good”.