African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has approved a facility of US$1.5 billion for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states and plans to increase it to US$3 billion when all 15 CARICOM countries have signed a partnership treaty.
Benedict O. Oramah, president and chairman of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank, disclosed this on Monday while unveiling the significant strides made in trade and investment relations between Africa and the Caribbean, at the ongoing 2023 AfriCaribbean trade and investment forum in Georgetown, Guyana.
The facility is aimed at enhancing trade and investment opportunities between the two regions. The beneficiaries of the funding are CARICOM’s member states that have ratified their partnership agreement with Afreximbank.
The agreement was announced last September at the inaugural Africa-Caribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF) in Bridgetown, Barbados.
Since the inaugural ACTIF held in Barbados in September 2022, the Caribbean Development Fund has become Afreximbank’s first CARICOM shareholder, and Afreximbank has implemented or progressed a range of initiatives to further AfriCaribbean linkages.
The bank’s five trade and investment missions to CARICOM have resulted in pipeline deals totalling $2 billion, under which critical transactions have been approved or are at final approval committee level. These include SME support and development in The Bahamas, tourism revitalisation support in Barbados, tourism projects in Grenada, renewable energy projects and trade finance in Saint Kitts and Nevis, and climate adaptation interventions in Saint Lucia.
Highlighting the achievements of the past year, Oramah celebrated the unity of the two regions, saying, “In just under a year, eleven of the 15 CARICOM member States had signed the partnership treaty… Afreximbank opened a Caribbean Office in Barbados, and it has begun operations.”
Afreximbank’s investment promotion drive has attracted well-advanced African investment interest in the Caribbean’s financial sector, fisheries, industrial parks, ports, renewable energy and tourism. Some of these deals will be signed at ACTIF 2023, and this will include the Bank’s impact investment subsidiary, the Fund for Export Development in Africa’s signing of a Framework Agreement with Access Bank Group, Nigeria, to jointly invest in the financial services sector across the Caribbean.
The bank will be running a pilot programme for the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) for CARICOM Central Banks as the payment infrastructure for CARICOM; and before the end of 2024, Afreximbank will start developing the Africa Trade Centre in Barbados as the permanent location for its Caribbean office, in addition to a hotel, trade information, conferencing and exhibition facilities.
The Forum, being hosted in Georgetown, Guyana, will continue to foster discussions, partnerships, and actionable plans to further solidify the relationship between the African and Caribbean regions.