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Afreximbank’s platform to promote cross-border trade in Africa

The digital platform is set to build trust and cut the transaction costs of trading in AfCFTA

Kampala, Uganda | ISAAC KHISA | The African Export-Import Bank’s new digital Customer Due Diligence (CDD) platform, called Mansa, is set to promote cross-border trade in Africa, says the product head Maureen Mba.

Mba, who spoke during the launch of the platform in the East African Community in partnership with the East African Business Council in Kampala on Oct.20, said 965 businesses have already been uploaded onto the platform consisting of financial institutions, corporates and the Small and Medium Enterprises across Africa.

Some of Uganda’s institutions on the platform include; Absa Bank, dfcu Bank, Cairo Bank, Opportunity Bank, Ecobank, Finance Trust Bank, NCBA Bank and Tropical Bank.

Mansa is single source of primary data required for customer due diligence and Know Your Customer (KYC) checks on African entities, including financial institutions, corporates and SMEs, in accordance with best practices.

The platform is also expected to address key trade related challenges facing the continent, including, the lack of market information, the high cost of doing business in Africa and discovering African counterparties.

Entities that use the platform are either ‘contributors’, namely African banks, corporates and SMEs, who will voluntarily upload their information to the repository using standardised KYC/AML templates, or ‘users’, such as financial institutions that provide banking facilities and are looking for information on a particular company or bank.

“The Mansa platform will promote good governance culture, transparency and accountability by African entities,” she said. “This initiative will also facilitate trade among ourselves; and create visibility for our different entities whether in the private sector, public sector, financial institution, exporter or importer.”

Mba said the new platform will also promote international trade with Africa through lower cost of compliance for international banks and global trading entities in maintaining relationships with the African counterparts.

In addition, the platform will also reduce the perceived risk of trading in Africa and mitigating negative implications of current due diligence challenges and high risk perception.

This comes as countries across the continent are in negotiations on how to progress with the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area which came into effect in January this year.  At least 86% of the AfCFTA rules of origin have been agreed, while negotiations on the outstanding rules are expected to conclude soon.

John Bosco Kalisa, the CEO of the East African Business Council said “EABC and Private Sector Foundation Uganda have partnered to enhance the level of preparedness for business in Uganda in order to ably access and expand to the regional and continental markets as a recovery strategy to build the economy back better amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”

He said the Word Bank research shows that the removal compliance cost and NTBs in Africa will result in US$300 billion boosts in income. He urged the EAC bloc to promote industrialization, value addition and build productive capacities to tap into the continental Market.

Francis Kisirinya, the acting Executive Director at PSFU said the new initiative will reduce the cost of doing due diligence in Uganda currently estimated at Shs5 million.

“MANSA digital platform is set to build trust and cut the transaction costs of trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” he said.

He said local companies need to upload their information on the platform for easy visibility for possible business deals for finished products and raw materials.

Data privacy

Fahadi Sensuwa, the head of MANSA Digital Initiatives at the Kampala regional office said once the company’s information been uploaded onto the system, it will undergo validation to ensure that it is correct before publication.

“In terms of access, not that everyone will come and access that information,” he said. “We do verify subscribers who want to access that information to ensure that the person seeking for that information has a criminal intention.

The Mansa platform is named after Mansa Musa, the ruler of the West African Malian Empire in the 1300s, who was responsible for opening up trade across Africa by establishing Timbuktu as a commercial, cultural and religious centre.

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