A three-day African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) Annual General Meeting Wednesday opened in Kigali, bringing together global experts and shareholders to discuss the future of intra-African trade.
Denys Denya, the executive vice President, Finance, Administration & Banking Services at Afreximbank, said the decision to hold this year’s annual general meeting of Afreximbank in Kigali was inspired by the continuous relationship with the country.
“We gather here at the time when the continent is embarking on the path of structural transformation for sustaining growth and development. The choice of Rwanda to host this AG meeting is partly because of the growing relations, but more importantly because Rwanda offers an enormous inspiration to the continent,” he said.
The meeting at the Kigali Convention Centre is running under the theme “Promoting African Trade and Economic Transformation”. It is convening senior government officials, including African and global CEOs, renowned academics, private sector practitioners and leading industrialists.
Speaking on behalf of the Rwandan Government, Claver Gatete, the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, said that hosting Afreximbank reaffirms the strong partnership that the bank has with Rwanda.
“I would like to thank the Afreximbank leadership for having chosen Rwanda as the host of the 24th Afreximbank meeting. I believe this clearly demonstrates our strong partnership and the role that the bank plays in supporting our country’s economic transformation,” he told the participants during the opening session.
Gatete revealed that the bank has in the recent past provided direct financing to Rwanda about $155 million in support of various development projects, including the construction of the Kigali Convention Centre and Radisson Blu Hotel.
He said that there are other huge projects in the pipeline that are being considered for funding by the bank, and that many agreements are expected to be signed during the three-day meeting.
Opening borders and its relevance
Sharing East Africa’s example, Gatete told participants that Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya are currently enjoying a lot of benefits under the Northern Corridor bloc.
“Few years back, it was hard to trade between these countries but when the Heads of State met, came up with serious decisions that saw countries develop new strategies to ease the trade along these countries’ routes. It used to take 21 days to move from Mombasa port to Kigali, but it now takes only 5 days,” he noted.
He explained that this happened after countries had removed all the roadblocks, including the weigh bridges at the borders; introduced the cargo tracking systems, and removed multiple insurance.
This, according to Gatete, has served as an example of what African countries can do if there’s trade facilitation and when the borders are open.
Participants will deliberate on how African countries can strategically invest in trade to boost intra-African trade so as to promote economic development, sustainably.
President Paul Kagame is expected to deliver a key note speech during the Saturday session. Other speakers expected to talk include the former president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, Strive Masiyiwa, Tony Elumelu and Aliko Dangote, among other Africa’s leading billionaires.