BY EMEKA EJERE
In further demonstration of determination to play a significant role to help achieve the objectives of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Ecobank Nigeria has continued to put structures in place to enable exporters exploit the opportunities in the trade agreement.
At a recent media briefing in Lagos, the pan African bank reiterated that it remains the partner of choice in Africa for export trade because of its unique positioning, wide network, pan-African payment switch, settlement capabilities, award winning digital products and strategic focus.
According to the Executive director, Corporate Banking, Ecobank Nigeria, Kola Adeleke, the bank’s unique positioning in 33 African countries enables it leverage its extensive network to reduce the number of financial partners and relationships in executing trade.
He said, “We own the switch connecting countries where we operate across Africa. This centralised switch enables easy integration. We possess knowledge of the local markets in which we operate resulting in un-parallel financial advisory.
“We offer real-time settlement across Africa and our customers enjoy instant transfers across 33 African countries. Ecobank has a reputation for developing innovative products as the bank has won us several international, regional and local awards and we aspire to be the gateway to pan-African payments and trade.”
The bank believes Nigeria is poised to gain from the investment and trade opportunities that the AfCFTA will inevitably bring because of its market size, supply chain infrastructure and an abundant supply of professionals/skilled players in various industries. It, however, cautions that businesses must strategically position themselves and endeavour to understand the dynamics of the ratification to be able to maximise the benefit and opportunities.
Other products and services on offer by Ecobank to support export trade include letters of credit, bonds, guarantees as well as bills for collections avalisation.
“The bank also provides loans for business such as import loans, export loans and supply chain finance”, said Chijioke Uzoukwu, Head of Trade, Ecobank Nigeria
“In the trade service, we support customers from initiation to execution in the areas of documentation and compliance, working with regulatory bodies and other stakeholders.
“We also offer trade advisory solution like market information across Africa, trade specialist support and after sales services. We have an electronic e-trade platform which provides an electronic frontend where the customers can initiate transactions and instruction from the comfort of their home and it will be delivered to the bank.”
In a bid to help accelerate Africa’s commercial and economic growth and development, Ecobank was one of the major supporters of the Intra-African Trade Fair 2021, which held from November 15-21, 2021, in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
The Intra-African Trade Fair provides Africa’s businesses with unique opportunities for unrivalled networking to establish new business contacts from every country across the African continent.
Incidentally, the trade fair came at a time that the AfCFTA agreement is breaking down the historic barriers to intra-African trade and investments by creating a huge single market.
“At the Ecobank Group we recognise that this will feed through to exponential growth in the demand and need for the convenience of a reliable and secure payments ecosystem and we already have the established scale to facilitate this as the payments bank of choice across Africa,” Akin Dada, Group Executive, Corporate and Investment Banking, Ecobank Group had stated.
Findings show that the bank already has in place numerous solutions to facilitate the exponential growth in intra-African trade being created by the AfCFTA. These include its scalable digital payments ecosystem which can facilitate trade and e-commerce payments across Africa; its nurturing and supporting of micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) through its provision of financial and non-financial support to help them grow and succeed; smart cash management functionalities; its Ecobank Marketplace providing a ready-made and accessible e-commerce solution for sole traders and MSMEs to grow their customer base and sales; its range of training programmes to upskill businesses’ management abilities; and the provision of innovative funding solutions.
Ecobank Group also has a series of webinars specially designed for African entrepreneurs to help them grasp and maximise their opportunities being created by the AfCFTA.