Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Showing its commitment to promoting intra-African trade and economic integration, South Africa has taken up shareholding in the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), the continental multilateral trade finance institution.

The South African government is represented by the Export Credit Insurance Corporation of South Africa (ECIC) as its designated investor, in line with the terms of the provisions of the charter of the bank. The shareholding makes South Africa the 47th African country to join Afreximbank as a participating state and/or shareholder.

“It is a significant vote of confidence to have South Africa join Afreximbank as a shareholder,” said Benedict Oramah, president of the bank.

“South Africa accounts for about 30%–35% of total intra-African trade,” he added, “making its membership critical for the attainment of the bank's strategic goal of moving intra-African trade share of Africa’s total trade from about 15% currently to 22% by 2021, and raising its annual value to more than $250bn by that year. We are confident that its membership of Afreximbank will enable it to play a significant role in driving trade across the continent.”

ECIC CEO Kutoane Kutoane said: “We are humbled while also motivated by the trust and confidence that the South African government has placed on the ECIC to assume the role of designated institution for membership of the bank.

“We are certain that South African exporters, especially our small and medium-sized exporters, will now have access to the expanded pool of structured trade finance facilities offered by the bank.”

Kutoane said the ECIC intended to make the partnership mutually beneficial, adding: “This marks a watershed moment, defining the era of more inclusive intra-continental trade facilitation on a grand scale.”

South Africa was unable to join Afreximbank at its launch in 1993, as the country was still under apartheid rule at the time.

Current Afreximbank participating and shareholding states are Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, the Seychelles, Sierra Leone, São Tomé and Príncipe, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Afreximbank shareholders are a mix of public and private entities divided into four classes, and comprise governments, central banks, regional and sub-regional institutions, private investors, and financial institutions, as well as non-African financial institutions, export credit agencies and private investors.

Class “A” shareholders are African states, central banks and public institutions, including the African Development Bank, while Class “B” is made up of African financial institutions and private investors.

Class “C” shares are held by non-African investors, mostly international banks and export credit agencies, including Standard Chartered Bank, HSBC, Citibank, China Exim Bank and Exim India.

Class “D” shares, a tier approved in December 2012, are fully paid value shares that can be held by any investor. SBM Securities, Mauritius, is currently the only investor in this class on behalf of holders of its depository receipts, which are listed on the Stock Exchange of Mauritius.

This article was paid for by the ECIC.