AU Seeks Active Collaboration Between Public, Private Sectors
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The need for active collaboration between the public and private sectors for the growth of the continent has been emphasised by the African Union.
Chairperson of the union, Mr Moussa Mahamat, said this during the commissioning of the new Ecobank head office in Lagos called the Ecobank Pan-African Centre (EPAC).
According to him, the structure shows a clear demonstration of what could be achieved if the government creates an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
“[The] active collaboration between the public and private sectors across Africa is critical to shared prosperity,” Mr Mahamat, who was represented by the Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Industry and Mining at AU, Mr Albert Muchanga, stated.
The “commission is very much happy to witness the commissioning of this magnificent edifice,” he added, stating that “the centre will not only serve as the headquarters of Ecobank Nigeria but also stand as a beacon of faith, success by the founders of the bank.”
He described Ecobank as a lender established “out of the idea among West African businesspeople who are determined to provide the African continent with a homegrown financial institution. And it has shown exactly what can be achieved by the African private sector when they come together in genuine collaborative and joint efforts.
“The Ecobank Pan African Centre again has also shown that it is possible when the government creates an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive.”
The former Chadian Prime Minister said Africa has embarked on a path of strategic market opening and enlargement through the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), a market of 1.3 billion people.
He said the process of countries’ wide economic integration involves the removal of tariffs and trade barriers as well as policy and regulation harmonisation in the areas of investment, competition policy, digital trade, quality of infrastructure among others.
“In this market, which has a huge potential for growth and also a platform for deeper government integration, the financial sector across Africa will play a key role in all aspects of banking including trade finance.
“With respect to trade finance, traders want to be paid on time and in full as they engage in intra-African trade and the financial sector will facilitate this as the financial institutions across Africa will be the first point of call in these operations.
“The need for timely payment comes against the background where one of the key challenges that the financial sector in Africa has met is the annual trade finance deficit in the margins of like one to a $112 billion.
“In this connection, I call on Ecobank to join the African Development Bank and the African Export-Import Bank in coming up with innovative mechanisms to contribute in closing the continent-wide trade finance gap,” he stated.
Welcoming guests, Chairman of Ecobank Nigeria, Ms Bola Adesola said the centre was a dream come true, noting that it is a tribute to the vision of the founding fathers in creating a world-class Pan-African Banking group and providing excellent financial services across Africa.