The government yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding with the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), which has committed to invest $700 million in the Caribbean.
Prime Minister Philip Davis said yesterday the agreement follows a meeting held with executives of the bank while he was in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt last week and establishes a promising partnership that provides for the promotion and financing of “South-South trade” between African countries and Caribbean states.
“Provision is also made for financing exports and imports of non-traditional African goods and services, the provision of insurance, and guaranteeing service coverage for commercial and non-commercial risk associated with African exports and imports,” he said.
“Member states will also support the bank in acting as an intermediary between African traders and traders of the Caribbean Community, and to facilitate and support the execution of banking operations and the borrowing of funds. Afreximbank has also indicated that once the regional office has been established, that it envisaged committing an investment of US$700 million in the Caribbean. Ultimately, CARICOM will be able to unlock further economic and social benefits at a critical time when so much support is needed.”
Afreximbank Head of Trade & Corporate Finance Ayman El Zoghby said Afreximbank has already laid the foundation to develop a physical presence in the Caribbean, in the form of a Caribbean Exim Bank, which will provide trade and project financing services to the region.
“We are witnessing the first milestone of The Bahamas joining Afreximbank as a member state, which will unlock so many of our activities, financing programs and facilitation initiatives to the Caribbean. Over the past few periods, Afreximbank has been on a journey to promote traffic in trade and investment among Africans,” he said.
“We have built trade bridges between Africans, we have revealed African information to traders and exporters, we have supported African countries to grow and compete globally, and we have done so much in that space and are bringing this experience and effort, through facilitation in financing initiatives and intervention to the Caribbean to do the same, to help diversify the economies of the Caribbean, to help create linkages between Africa and Caribbean.”
El Zoghby said bank executives have already been in discussions with a number of Bahamian institutions on an array of financing and investment opportunities.
He pledged that Afreximbank will be quick in moving on the ground and doing things in The Bahamas.
“The projects we have already discussed in The Bahamas, one is in the transportation space, another is in poultry farming. We have also discussed supporting the local banks with correspondent lines of credit,” he said.
“So these are the examples of the strategic opportunities that we saw here. Of course renewable energy is another thing that is crucial here, given the high cost of electricity, so we will try also to support renewable energy to be set up in The Bahamas to support electricity production.”