In a bid to promote trade within the African continent both Zenith Bank Plc. and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
The partnership which was to create a platform to unlock the vast opportunities for trade on the African continent was agreed on, on Wednesday, during the 8th Zenith Bank International Trade Seminar on Non-Oil Export in Lagos, themed, “Nigerian Non-Oil Export Industry: The Present, The Future.”
The platform, SmartAfCFTA, would 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.
Specifically, the Chief Executive Officer of Zenith Bank, Mr Ebenezer Onyeagwu, said the collaboration was specially developed to unlock the vast opportunities presented by AfCFTA not only for Nigeria’s economic prosperity but also for advancing trade across African countries.”
According to him, the annual Zenith Bank Trade Seminar deepens the conversation on promoting non-oil export in Nigeria by bringing together non-oil export practitioners and relevant government agencies to interact and explore the opportunities.
He added that the event was to proffer solutions to the challenges of non-oil export in the country, noting that previous editions’ outcomes have found expression and influenced policy initiatives.
He said: “ The extension of the period of repatriation of Non-Oil Export proceeds from 90 days to 180 days, and the policy mandating shippers not to carry export without a Nigeria Export Proceeds (NXP) Form Number were recommendations from previous seminars.”
“Also, the need to incentivise exporters to repatriate their export proceeds through the official channels and the recommendation to create export terminals across various export hubs in the country were also from past seminars. Previous editions recommended having Export Desks in commercial banks, which has now been instituted.”
On his part, the Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Mr Wamkele Mene, lauded the chairman of Zenith Bank, Mr Jim Ovia, for partnering with the AfCFTA for the development of the SmartAfCFTA Portal.
“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 AfCTA 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,” he stated.
In his goodwill message, the Acting Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Folashodun Shonubi, represented by the Deputy CBN on Economic Policy, Mr Kingsley Obiora, commended Zenith Bank for leading Nigeria’s non-oil export promotion advocacy.
He emphasised that non-oil export contributes 1.2 per cent to the total GDP ratio while noting the need for concerted efforts to boost non-oil exports in Nigeria.
Present at the seminar were dignitaries, including the Secretary of the National Action Committee on AfCFTA, Mr Olusegun Awolowo, Mr. Akeem Lawal, Divisional CEO, Interswitch Group and others.
Zenith Bank launched the Non-Oil Export Seminar in 2016 as an initiative to deepen the discourse on promoting the non-oil export business in Nigeria.