Afreximbank aims to build on debut BRICS Summit attendance

A general view of flags of (from left) South Africa, Brazil, Russia, India and China during the 2023 BRICS Summit at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. Photo: AFP

A general view of flags of (from left) South Africa, Brazil, Russia, India and China during the 2023 BRICS Summit at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. Photo: AFP

Published Aug 25, 2023


Denys Denya, the Africa Export Import Bank (Afreximbank) executive vice-president in charge of finance, administration and banking services, and one of three executive vice-presidents, told Business Report on the sidelines of the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg that this was the first time the bank was attending a BRICS Summit, but given that Egypt, which is where the bank is headquartered, and Ethiopia will join South Africa in the BRICS Group from next year, he was certain that this debut would be the first of many attendances at BRICS Summits.

“We came here as the theme of the Summit is about including African countries and we have 50 African countries as shareholders, so this aligns with our mandate of promoting economic development in the African continent,” he said.

The theme of the 15th BRICS Summit is: “BRICS and Africa: Partnership for mutually accelerated growth, sustainable development and inclusive multilateralism”. One of the five priorities for the Summit is unlocking opportunities through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA).

“I have had an enjoyable time being back in South Africa, but also a productive time, as I have had the opportunity to meet with several African business executives, as well as touring the stands at Gallagher Estate. One of the reasons why I joined the Afreximbank in May 2010 was to make a difference at the national scale, rather than at a business scale, which is what happened while I was at Nedbank,” he added.

The Afreximbank’s mission is: “To stimulate a consistent expansion, diversification, and development of African trade while operating as a first-class, profit-oriented, socially responsible financial institution and a center of excellence in African trade matters”.

To make this happen in practice, Afreximbank has five regional offices. The first office was in Harare, Zimbabwe and this office looks after countries in Southern Africa. The office in Abidjan, Ivory Coast covers countries in francophone West Africa, while the office in Abuja, Nigeria handles countries in anglophone West Africa. The Kampala, Uganda office looks after countries in East Africa, while the office in Yaounde, Cameroon, is tasked with the countries in Central Africa.

At the end of 2022, Afreximbank’s total assets and guarantees stood at $31 billion (R584bn), and its shareholder funds amounted to $5.21bn. It disbursed more than $51bn to support African economies between 2016 and 2021.

Like the BRICS New Development Bank, the Afreximbank has a better credit rating than the countries it serves. It is rated BBB by Fitch Ratings, which is four ratings better than South Africa’s BB minus.

Since its founding in 1993, the bank has championed the process of economic integration in Africa by directly financing the growth of intra-African trade, investing in trade facilitation, expanding trade-enabling infrastructure, and developing technological ecosystems that leapfrog barriers to intra-African trade and investments. That is why it was the lead sponsor of the two Inter Africa Trade Fairs (IATF) held in 2018 and 2021 and is the lead sponsor for the third fair to be held in Cairo, Egypt in November this year.

“We are busy promoting the IATF through various road shows and have received positive feedback on businesses wishing to attend and we hope to see several South African businesses there, as the Durban IATF was such a success,” he said.

The second IATF was a resounding success even though the Durban International Convention Centre had less than four months to prepare for the event after Kigali, Rwanda had to abandon its plans to host the event. It saw deals worth $42.1bn signed and the Cairo event aims to beat this with a target of $43bn.

Helmo Preuss: Economist at Forecaster Ecosa