On the latest Marketplace Africa, Afreximbank President Benedict Okey Oramah speaks to CNN’s Eleni Giokos about how the bank plans to help fund the continent’s industrialisation goals.
Oramah says that Africa “should be a banker’s paradise”, but that it isn’t, “because of two things. The banks that are supposed to exploit this opportunity are not controlled by Africans. That is one. And because they’re not controlled by Africans, they don’t understand the risks in Africa.”
One of the big problems facing the continent is cross-border payments. Oramah explains, “That is the issue. We have 42 currencies. So, 42 payment systems so to say. So, they don’t talk to each other. So, if I want to do something with another person, they are just across the border, I have to go to different places, spend so much money, it takes so long.”
The African Continental Free Trade Area is one of the solutions to problems of trading across borders. The Afreximbank President says the agreement will be a positive for the continent, “Very optimistic. Because the problem of Africa is the colonial legacy of fragmentation. If we resolve it in Africa, we explode.”
Oramah speaks about the ways in which Africa can unlock its financial potential, “We must find things that open up the continent’s value chain in a way that brings efficiency so that each part of the continent will specialise in what they know how to do best. Because although we have a continent of so many people, there are some parts of the continent that actually lack labor. And there are some that are busting out the seams with labor. We need to really believe we are one people and stop looking at ourselves as small countries. Because it’s not getting us anywhere.”
Looking to the future, Oramah speaks about the bank’s targets, “I believe that in less than six years we would double the size of the bank to $60 billion. All the ingredients are there. We understand the market. People understand us, as shareholders, trust us. They always come when we ask for capital. So, I believe that the stage is set for the continent to use Afreximbank to begin to turn things around.”
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