Kampala, Uganda | ISAAC KHISA | Cairo-based African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is seeking to recruit at least 700 commercial banks as agents across the continent to extend financial services to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
Amr Kamel, the Bank’s Executive Vice President, Business Development and Corporate Banking, said the multi-lateral lender has on board about 170 African banks and that the target is to have 700 banks by the end of next year.
“The purpose of this is to ensure that our services reach too many business and SME’s,” he said during the 18th edition of Afreximbank’s Annual Seminar on Structured Trade Finance held in Casablanca, Morocco.
Kamel said the new initiative was to bridge the gap created as international banks pull out of the continent and that it is intended to promote intra-African trade, which currently stands at 16%.
Last year, UK-based Barclays Bank pulled out of the African market seeking to concentrate in Europe.
The French bank, Groupe BCPE, said it is considering divesting its banking interests in Africa to the Moroccan banking group BCP which is in line with Groupe BPCE’s strategy of refocusing on sectors and regions considered to be priorities for developing the group’s business lines.BCPE has operations in Cameroon, Madagascar, Congo and Tunisia.
Similarly, French-based Societe Generale is in talks with South African lender Absa about selling its local unit as the French bank prepares to pull out of Africa’s most industrialised economy.
Obi Emekekwue, Head of Global Communications at the bank, said interested African banks should make application to Afreximbank for consideration.
“These banks will have access to a variety of credit lines, enabling them meet the needs of their customers,” he said, adding that a small fee will be charged upon discussion.
This development comes as Afreximbank plans to disburse $25 billion to support intra-African trade for five years ending 2021. Last year, the bank approved more than $60 billion in credit facilities to African businesses.