Dakar, Senegal, May 13 2009

Honorable Ministers
Members of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank
The Vice President of the Export-Import Bank of China, Mr. Zhu Xinqiang
Distinguished Senior Officials of China Eximbank
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

It is to me a great honor to make a few remarks on the occasion of this important signing ceremony. At this time of severe economic crisis ravaging virtually all economies of the world, China has once again stood up to be identified with Africa. There is no doubt that Africa needs all the help it can get at this time to enable it go through the current economic turbulence without losing most of the development gains made in recent past. Trade had been an engine of that growth and the tremendous expansion in trade seen by Africa in the past decade owed a lot to China. In this regard, whereas African trade with the world expanded by 265% between 2000 and 2008 trade with China saw a blistering growth rate of 1234% during the same period. Accordingly, China’s share of Africa’s total trade rose from 3% to 11% during the same period. With increased trade, China has contributed significantly to Africa’s economic progress, through ameliorating inflation and promoting technology transfer. China’s demand for commodities also helped to keep prices of commodities at remunerative levels pushing Africa’s foreign exchange reserves to an all-time high of about USD 460 billion as at the end of 2008.

It is in the context of the foregoing, distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen that the import of the Facility we are signing today can be understood. In this regard, it provides a tremendous opportunity for us to keep Africa–China trade flowing at this time when the on-going credit crisis has significantly reduced the availability of trade finance to African entities. In addition, the development goods that will be imported into Africa under the Facility will stem job losses that have begun to intensify in our continent and accelerate Africa’s drive towards diversification of its exports away from commodities. Proceeds of the facility will be used in financing the import of equipment that will support telecoms, power and manufacturing projects. These are critical areas requiring credit support at this time. Africans recognize that one who gives it in its time of need is a great friend. China had been a good friend of Africa going back many years. Today, it is continuing that tradition of friendship by providing us a greatly needed support. From Afreximbank point of view, the facility we will be signing today extends the tremendous support the Bank has been receiving from China since inception. For example, China Eximbank is a major Class C shareholder of the Bank, having taken over the shares of Bank of China which was a pioneer shareholder of the Bank. Just last year China Eximbank increased its equity in the Bank becoming the second largest Class C shareholder. One of our Board Members, Mr. Liu Liange, is an Executive Vice President at China Eximbank. So the relationship between the Bank and China Eximbank is deep- rooted and growing for which we sincerely thank their President and Board of Directors.

I will like to take this opportunity to assure China Eximbank that we will live up to their expectations regarding the utilization of the Facility. Since we commenced operations, we have operated prudently and met all our obligations on terms agreed with creditors and our implementation of the credit line will be no exception. Our pipeline of deals that qualify to be financed under the line will ensure that the facility will be fully utilized within a short time. China Eximbank has assured us that they will be willing to double the Facility size once fully utilized. I will therefore like to put Mr. Xinqiang on notice that we will soon be knocking on China Eximbank’s doors for an increase.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, permit now to thank all those who facilitated the event we are celebrating today. I will like to thank the Board and Management of China Eximbank for considering us worthy of this facility. I will also like to thank the staff of Afreximbank and China Eximbank who worked so hard to ensure that everything was finalized in time for today’s ceremony. Permit me to also thank those who have honored us with their presence on this occasion, including the representatives of the press who I hope will give this event the publicity it deserves.

Thank you all for listening

Jean-Louis EKRA
DAKAR, MAY 13 2009

  • Publishing Date : May 13, 2009

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