The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) on Wednesday, in Cairo, launched a new initiative that would open doors, allowing African contractors to capitalise on various infrastructure investments available across the continent.
President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank, Prof. Benedict Oramah, joined by the Minister of International Cooperation of Egypt, Rania Al-Mashat, launched the Afreximbank Intra-African Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) Contract Promotion Programme during the Presidential Summit of the Intra-African Trade Fair 2023 (IATF2023).
A statement on Wednesday, explained that Oramah told guests that the programme was one of the Bank’s initiatives to support the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), saying that it was aimed to enable African companies to successfully bid for, win and execute infrastructure contracts in Africa through capacity building, twinning, market access opportunities, financing, guarantees and technology solutions.
“The EPC initiative will help African contractors to participate in the $60 billion annual infrastructure investments within Africa, unlike the current practice where most of the contracts go to non-African entities,” he said.
Al-Mashat said the launch of the programme would have a positive impact on Africa’s agenda for sustainable development.
“It enhances the participation of African companies in infrastructure projects, provides more investment opportunities and facilitates the exchange of information in order to expand partnerships and twinning agreements to drive growth in the engineering, construction and procurement sector,” she said.
Al-Mashat described the platform as a strategic and effective solution to tackle three significant challenges preventing Africa from reaching its potential, including lack of funding, insufficient information and a skills gap.
Addressing those challenges was especially crucial to tackling the infrastructure funding gap in the continent, estimated at $170 billion annually, which could be fixed by promoting international cooperation and attracting investment in infrastructure.
She recommended promoting transparent communication between governments and the private sector to bridge information gaps and tackling skills gaps by providing technical support, capacity building and skills development to build a skilled workforce.
The Minister said Egypt was eager to boost private sector involvement in development endeavours and to link it to all funding and investment opportunities and technical support provided by multilateral and bilateral development partners, adding, “in order to promote these efforts, I have the honour to announce to you that the platform we are launching today will be linked to the Ministry of International Cooperation’s portal for private sector participation.”
She commended Afreximbank for leading the initiative and providing support to EPC companies in Africa through contracts worth over US$12 billion in the past five years and appealed to international development partners to do more in supporting African companies by providing affordable and low-cost development finance. They should also provide more innovative mechanisms and technical support necessary for implementing infrastructure and green projects in Africa.
Attending the Presidential Summit was host President Abdel Fatah El Sisi of Egypt, who was joined by Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe and Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi.
Also present were Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly of Egypt and former President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, along with several former African vice presidents, serving ministers, other political and business leaders.