Panellists at the ongoing 29th Annual General Meetings of Afreximbank in Cairo, Egypt, have called on African leaders to strongly consider establishing stronger banks to fund the continent’s development needs.
They unanimously agreed that small banks and microfinance institutions were useful, but they were incapable of financing Africa’s infrastructure deficit.
Speaking on the topic: “Africa under the storm of external shocks and internal challenges” Mr Arnold Ekpe, former Chief Executive Officer, Ecobank Group, said financing infrastructure projects such as roads, railways, power stations, factories and large commercial operations necessary for economic development could only be financed by larger banks.
Sessions at the event include the meetings of the Advisory Group on Trade Finance and Export Development in Africa and the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders of the Bank, complemented by a full programme of seminars and plenaries featuring insights from senior government ministers, senior executives of international and continental organisations and authorities, captains of industry, and leading economists, amongst others.
The meetings are being attended by business and political leaders, banking industry professionals, trade and trade finance practitioners and other parties involved in economic development from across Africa and beyond. The Meetings have been ranked among the most important gatherings of economic decision-makers in Africa.
The African continent he said, must rely less on foreign funding and pay its own way for economic development.
He said the current externally focused model of African economic development was not working.
Mr Ekpe said by continuing to be overly reliant on developed market models of economic development, Africa would not be able to realise its full growth potential.
He said there was, therefore, the need for increased commitment from stakeholders to support institutions such as Afreximbank to be stronger financially to support Africa’s development.
Dr Vera Songwe, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UNECA said Africa needed stronger banks which could finance big-ticket transactions.
She said African countries must pool resources and use institutions such as the Afreixmbank to fund African projects.
One other area worth considering she said was for Africa to use the large pool of pension funds to finance huge infrastructure projects.
She, therefore, urged African leaders to support institutions such as Afreximbank to make it stronger and to enable it to further support the development of the continent.
Ambassador Albert Munchanga, African Union Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry and Minerals said the African Union in its quest to promote intra-African trade was working with stakeholders on the continent.
He said African Union was coming up with what he referred to as ‘Made in Africa Standards to ensure standard criteria for all products manufactured in Africa.