By Abimbola Fashakin, Lagos
The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has stated that it has committed itself to a $400 million dollars to finance and promote trade between African countries and Belarus.
A statement issued by the bank quoted its President, Dr Benedict Oramah, as announcing the pledge when he met with Belarusian officials and bankers in the countryâ€™s capital, Minsk.
Oramah said that Belarusâ€™ current trade with Africa, which stood at 300 million dollars per annum, would rise to one billion dollars if Belarusian financial institutions contributed to the programme.
He said that Afreximbank would consider increasing its contribution to the programme if the initial amount got exhausted.
Oramah, who was received by Gen-Col. Victor Sheiman, Chief of Presidential Affairs of Belarus, said that Africa was in a hurry to develop and was looking for suitable partners.
He said that Afreximbank needed suppliers of investment and development good to work with to achieve that goal.
â€œWith its expertise in mining, production of agricultural equipment, road construction, bridge building and pipeline equipment, Belarus was a natural partner which could supply the capital goods which Africa needed for its development,â€ he said.
At the Belarus Potash Company, the bank president urged the company to consider going into joint ventures with African businesses to help the continent to achieve the goal of becoming the next food basket of the world.
According to him, African countries are now giving priority to modernising agriculture, using fertiliser to increase productivity.
“The joint ventures would help to increase production through availability of fertiliser,â€™â€™ he said.
Earlier, Sheiman said that Belarus saw itself as a prospective partner for African countries and was ready to deliver industrial equipment.
Sheiman said that Belarus would set up local service facilities on the continent in such sectors as agriculture, energy, infrastructure and mining.
On her part, Elena Kudravets, Director General of the Belarusian Potash Company, said that the company was ready to go into joint ventures in Africa and was committed to growing on the continent.
Chairman of the Board of Development Bank of Belarus, Sergei Roumas, said that the bank would support businesses exporting equipment to African countries and would consider acquiring shares in Afreximbank.
Also, Pavel Kallaur, Chairman of the Board of the National Bank of Belarus, said that the central bank was prepared to provide any possible support to increase trade between Belarus and Africa.
The delegation included business leaders from Nigeria, Cote dâ€™Ivoire, Republic of Congo, Senegal, and Tanzania.
The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is the foremost Pan-African multilateral financial institution devoted to financing and promoting intra and extra-African trade.
The Bank was established in October, 1993 by African governments, African private and institutional investors, and non-African investors.
Since 1994, it has approved more than 41 billion dollars in credit facilities for African businesses, including about 6.2 billion dollars in 2015.
Afreximbank, with headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, had total assets of 9.4 billion dollars as at April, 2016.