Zenith Bank Collaborates with AfCFTA to Create Innovative SMART AfCFTA Portal

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ZENITH Bank Plc has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat to collaborate on the development of the SMARTAfCFTA Portal. This portal aims to enhance trade promotion within the African continent by providing a unified platform for trade information.

SMARTAfCFTA serves as a consolidated source of trade-related information for the entire African region. The funding for this trade information portal in Africa will be provided by the Bank, contributing a sum of one million dollars.

During an international trade seminar organized by Zenith Bank, focusing on non-oil exports, Wamkele Mene, the Secretary-General of AfCFTA, emphasized the necessity for Nigeria to proactively engage in diversification, particularly by venturing into automobile manufacturing. This strategic move is aimed at addressing the substantial gap in the African population’s automotive needs.

AfCFTA’s estimations reveal a significant annual deficit of five million vehicles within the continent. Presently, only South Africa, Morocco, and Egypt are actively involved in automobile production. Mene highlighted that Nigeria has the potential to tap into this sector while also benefiting from Afrexim’s $1 billion funding initiative, which supports countries undertaking car manufacturing endeavors.

Addressing the audience during the seminar, Mene said, “we have identified a number of priority sectors, which we believe in our studies indicate that these priority sectors will enable the diversification that we all want to see. I mentioned the pharmaceutical sector, agriculture and agro-processing, transport and logistics, and the auto sector. In the auto sector again, we had an opportunity to accelerate the diversification of Africa’s economy.

“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.

“That means that for Nigeria, there is an opportunity to include the auto sector in your strategy if it’s not there already as your strategy for diversification for production of vehicles, creating jobs driving industrialisation, because we know that the demand for the auto sector, Africans auto sector is not going to be met by Egypt, Morocco, South Africa. We have to have more countries that are producing vehicles for the African continent and creating jobs and innovation and driving industrialisation.”

Suggesting the need for prompt measures to be undertaken in the automotive industry, he stated that, “I would suggest and recommend that the auto sector be closely looked at because we know that from every unit of investment on the assembly line to produce a vehicle there are four jobs that are created in the components manufacturing sector, whether it is lithium battery, manufacturing or any other kind of a component. So, as we talk about diversification value addition, let us consider the auto sector is one of the enablers for the diversification that we all want to see.

“I am very happy that our development financing institutions have stepped up as Afrexim has provided the facility $1 billion for any country that wishes to start producing vehicles for trade under the AfCFTA”,

In reference to the recently concluded MOU with AfCFTA, Ebenezer Onyeagwu, the Group Managing Director of Zenith Bank, conveyed that the implementation of AfCFTA holds the potential to bestow prosperity upon the African continent. Furthermore, Onyeagwu highlighted that the forthcoming portal, which is to be developed by Zenith Bank, aims to nurture and enhance intra-Africa trade.

He stated that, “ We expect that the implementation of this agenda will change the fortune of not just Nigeria for the whole of Africa. The MOU between Zenith Bank and the African continental free trade area will be executed. The MOU will be for Zenith 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.

“With the development of this portal, one of the capabilities we are going to build into is that you can sit in every part of Africa and market your products and services. You can sit in every part of Africa and identify whatever products and services you require that are in Africa”.

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