Nigeria’s Zenith Bank has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to build a smart portal for trade on the continent.
Zenith is to fund the single portal for trade information in Africa with $1 million.
The MoU was signed by the Group CEO of Zenith Bank, Dr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu and the Secretary-General of the AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene during the ongoing 2023 Zenith Bank International Trade Seminar in Lagos.
While highlighting the need for Africa to look inward for trade, the Zenith Bank GMD at the seminar themed: ‘Nigerian Non-Oil Export Industry.
The Present, The Future’ said the need to drive Africa’s prosperity by Africans informed the idea of the single Africa trade portal.
According to him, the portal would play a significant role in facilitating trade among African countries.
Explaining the capabilities of the portal and how it will impact trade in Africa, the Zenith Bank Group CEO said:
- “With the MoU, Zenith will be developing the smart AfCFTA portal which is going to serve as a straight Porter that will showcase African products and services and where they can be found. With the development of this portal, one of the capabilities we are going to build in there is that you can see it in every part of Africa and market your products and services. You can see it in every part of Africa and identify whatever products and services you require that are in Africa.
- “If you look at Q1 exports in Nigeria, you will realize that 46.43% of non-oil exports in Nigeria go to Europe, 24.85% go to Asia, America 18.39%, and Africa 10.27%. And also there is this tendency in Africa; the moment you are looking for an item you can’t find in your geography or region, the next thing you think of is how do I find it in Europe? How do I find it in the West? How do I find it in China? Now with the development of the AfCFTA portal, we are saying look for it in Africa before you look elsewhere.”
Africa must lead the way
While noting that Africa had always looked up to foreigners to lead the way when it comes to the issue of prosperity on the continent, he said it was time for Africans to take charge.
- “In my various engagements with His Excellency, the Secretary General of AfCFTA, he always talks about the fact that the prosperity of Africa is in our hands and that no foreigner will develop Africa we have to lead the way for others to follow. But what we have been doing in Africa most of the time is that we are waiting for the foreigners to lead, no we need to lead the way. This is why when we talk about the idea of the African continental free trade zone, we expect that the commencement of the implementation of this agenda will change the fortune of not just Nigeria but of the whole of Africa.”
AfCFTA thanks Zenith Bank
Speaking at the event, the Secretary-General of the AfCFTA, Mene commended Zenith Bank for coming up with the idea of a smart trade portal for Africa and for funding it to the tune of $1 million.
- “What many of you may not be aware of and the MD may be too modest to say is that Zenith Bank was the first bank to come to me to say we want to partner with you. We went to see the chairman and the Chairman said that Zenith Bank wants to make a contribution to digitize trade in Africa. I’ve never been offered a million dollars before it was the first time when he said here is a million dollars.
- “The chairman said the one million dollars was to demonstrate the commitment as a bank to digitization in Africa. So, the portal wasn’t my idea; it wasn’t our idea at the AfCFTA Secretariat. It was Zenith Bank that stepped up and said this has to be done,” he said.