The Group Chief Executive Officer of the Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), Mr Ade Ayeyemi, has declared that the banking group remains one of the key supporters of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).
The AfCFTA is a free trade area founded in 2018 but came into effect this January 1, 2021. The policy aims at creating a single African wide market for goods and services.
It is expected to pave the way for a rapid dismantling of impediments to cross-border trade leading to free movement of business, persons and investments across the continent, thus leading to the establishment of the Customs Union.
Mr Ayeyemi, who believes AfCFTA will be of great benefit to both the continent and the bank’s customers, affirmed that the pan-African banking group is facilitating smooth and instant payments as countries start the implementation of AfCFTA.
He said the bank has been able to affect international payment across the 33 countries where it operates on the continent through its Rapid Transfer platform.
He also emphasised that the bank’s platform can be scaled to accommodate other African countries under the AfCFTA based on their respective regulations.
According to him, “With this Pan-African exposure, the governments and our customers will re-evaluate their businesses to efficiently take charge of bigger opportunities.”
He said, “So, if you manufacture goods in Aba for the Nigerian market, you can now start thinking of how to expand your manufacturing capacity to be able to export across West Africa and also other African countries, not just looking at Nigeria as a market alone.
“And as you change your demand forecast, you need to now improve your capacity to produce and that will mean importing new machinery to expand your manufacturing base, develop bigger market and hire more people.”
He further added that, “Banks will work with other banks like Afrexim Bank to provide a swift payment platform as Africa will be the first market for most African products. For instance, there is no need for Nigeria to import rubber from Malaysia when rubber is being exported by Côte d’Ivoire.
“It is better within the African space. So, there is a whole range of businesses that we are having conversations with our customers, the governments and the African Union, because of our pan-African presence.”