Afreximbank seeks support to boost agriculture in Africa
• Partners Belarus On $800m Trade And Investment Finance Facility
Despite possessing over 60 per cent of the world’s usable arable land, Africa still faces deficits in production of major food crops from grains, meat, and tubers to fruits and vegetables.
This challenge is hinged on lack of technology and expertise, coupled with absence of partnership that can assist the continent on the path to sustainable development.
President of the African Export Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK), Dr. Benedict Oramah who stated this at the just concluded maiden edition of the Belarus-Africa Trade and Investment Forum, in Minsk, Belarus, said to boost agricultural production, Africa requires commercial farming based on mechanisation, hence the need for partners that can share the continent’s experiences about how to rise from poverty and deprivation to wealth and affluence.
While noting that the continent is awash with abundant ground and surface water with seven large rivers running all across its surface, he claimed that it is also rich in all imaginable metals and minerals.
“To boost agricultural production, Africa requires commercial farming based on agricultural mechanisation. The capacity to produce tractors and agricultural equipment is very limited. The mining and processing of the abundant solid minerals is constrained by equipment availability. Further, the problem of inadequate mass transit system for the burgeoning population remains stark.
“And we have joined hands with the Development Bank of Belarus to put in place a US$800 million Belarus-Africa Trade and Investment Finance Facility (BATIFF) to provide trade and project financing, as well as, risk cover for African and Belarusian entities. On top of these AFREXIMBANK has in place risk bearing facilities that can protect any Belarusian business engaged in business and investment activities in Africa; Afreximbank implements Country Risk and Investment guarantees, as well as, a Guarantee Programme in support of African Government commitments to project promoters. We stand ready to be your risk umbrella as you go into Africa,” Oramah said.
The President said Belarus has proven strong expertise in the production of potash fertilisers, noting that the un-mined phosphate deposits in Africa present a good ground for partnership.
“We extend our hands of business collaboration to Belarusian business people. We invite them to come to Africa to assemble their heavy equipment; we invite them to come and help us develop our mines; we invite them to come and set up shop in our export processing zones. We invite African businesses and Governments to consider Belarusian goods and services in their heavy equipment procurements; we invite them to build partnerships that are productive with Belarusian businesses; we invite them to see Belarus as a market for exports of various goods; we invite our brothers to engage in discussions towards building viable supply chains.
“Africa could be the main source of agriculture produce for Belarus. Given that Belarus recently imported from the world: US$870m in edible fruits and nuts; US$360m in Edible Vegetables; US$500m in Rubber and related products; US$450m in fish and related products; US$400 in cotton, coffee and cocoa products; and close to half a billion US dollars of cements, sulphur and stones annually, Africa could become the main supplier of these goods to Belarus,” he stated.
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