By Dipo Olowookere The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), parent company of the Ecobank Group have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to promote joint corporate objectives through the financing of private sector projects and trade finance transactions, focusing particularly on transactions involving trade and investment in Afreximbank member countries where Ecobank also has a presence. The cooperation between the two institutions will support efforts at promoting intra-African trade, facilitating industrial development and export development, and strengthening African trade finance leadership, with the ultimate goal of transforming the African continent. Under the agreement, Afreximbank and Ecobank will design joint innovative and tailor-made financial instruments and solutions to support private sector corporates and select strategic public sector institutions, as well as small and medium enterprises or \u201cSMEs.\u201d This will enable them to participate effectively in the production of value added goods and services in national, regional and continental value chains. The initiatives envisaged include the creation of a $500 million programme dedicated to financing trade among Afreximbank member countries where Ecobank conducts banking business. The two institutions will also explore other cooperation in financing trade operations in the form of exports and imports among African countries where Ecobank is present. These will be operations which are eligible for Afreximbank\u2019s interventions through co-financing, syndication of loans, risk participation or through any other appropriate mode of cooperation. Ecobank Group CEO Ade Ayeyemi said: \u201cWe welcome this win-win collaboration between Ecobank and Afreximbank. It is cooperation that will lead to a more efficient way of channelling trade finance towards supporting growth of intra-African trade and industrialisation.\u201d "Inadequate access to trade finance remains one of the greatest obstacles to Africa\u2019s economic development,\u201d said Dr. Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank. \u201cThis collaboration with Ecobank opens up more opportunities for African businesses to access much-needed financing for their trading activities. We are very proud at the opportunity to work with a pan-African financial institution like Ecobank to deliver on our shared goal of enhancing access to trade finance in Africa." Afreximbank brings to this partnership solid expertise in financing trade among its member countries. Ecobank has a full service platform, providing end-to-end trade finance solutions to enterprises in Africa.