Zenith Bank Plc has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to fund the development of a smart portal named SMARTAfCFTA with $1 million.
The $1 million SMARTAfCFTA portal is aimed at unlocking the vast opportunities for trade within the African continent.
The MoU was signed by Ebenezer Onyeagwu, the group managing Director and CEO of Zenith Bank Plc, and the Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, during the 8th Annual Edition of the Zenith Bank International trade seminar on non-oil export themed “Non-Oil Export Industry: The Present, The Future”, held recently at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The leading multinational financial service provider said SMARTAfCFTA is a single portal for trade information that is designed to provide information like trade indicators, market trends, custom tariffs, trade agreements, rules of origin, market access requirements of relevant jurisdictions, export potentials, export diversification indicators and contact details of business partners in target markets and other trade-related information about Africa.
Speaking on the partnership with AfCFTA for the development of the SMARTAfCFTA Portal, Onyeagwu said the collaboration aims to foster intra-African trade and unlock the vast opportunities presented by AfCFTA, not only for the continent’s economic prosperity but also for advancing trade across African countries.
The Zenith Bank CEO explained that the MOU between Zenith Bank will be for the bank to develop the smart AfCFTA portal which is going to serve as a trade portal that will showcase African products and services where they can be found.
Capabilities of the Portal
The Zenith Bank CEO highlighted the capabilities of the portal and how it will impact trade in Africa. He noted that the product is unique and identifiable with the continent.
“With the development of this portal, one of the capabilities we are going to build in there is that you can see it in every part of Africa and market your products and services. You can see it in every part of Africa and identify whatever products and services you require that are in Africa.”Ebenezer Onyeagwu
On his part, Wamkele Mene, the Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, commended Jim Ovia, the founder and chairman of Zenith Bank, for partnering with the AfCFTA for the development of the SMARTAfCFTA Portal.
According to Mene, “Zenith Bank was the first bank to say “we want to partner with you”.
“We went to see the Founder and Chairman, and he said that Zenith Bank wants to make a contribution to digitise trade in Africa. And so the portal was not my idea, it was not our idea at the AfCFTA Secretariat, it was Zenith Bank that stepped up and said, ‘this has to be done! So I want to thank you very much, GMD, for this collaboration.”Wamkele Mene
According to AfCFTA’s estimate, there is a five million per annum void in the continent and with only South Africa, Morocco, and Egypt, producing cars. Mene noted that countries in the sub-region can tap into this sector whilst capitalising on Afrexim’s $1 billion facility to countries who take on manufacturing of cars.
“Our continent produces 900,000 units of passenger vehicles per year between South Africa, Egypt and Morocco and we are 17 per cent of the global population. India, similarly populated to the African continent, produces five million units of vehicles per year. By the year 2035, our estimates indicate that in order for us to meet domestic demand in Africa we have to produce five million units of vehicles per year.”Wamkele Mene