AfCFTA, UBA In $6bn Pact To Fund SMEs For New Trade Opportunities

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Nigeria’s Tier One Lenders, United Bank for Africa has signed a $6bn Memorandum of Understanding with the African Continental Free Trade Area secretariat to fund Small and Medium Enterprises to help them tap into the opportunities presented by the AfCFTA.

The Head of SME Banking at UBA, Babatunde Ajayi stated this at the Nigerian Canadian Business Association Business 2023 Roundtable held in Lagos.

At the roundtable, which was the second of its kind, and themed “Enabling Growth by Unlocking Access to Capital, Technology, And Markets”, Ajayi expressed worry that intra-African trade remained below 20 percent while other continents have continued to post better numbers.

 “I’m the one driving the newly signed $6bn in partnership with the AfCFTA to fund SMEs across Africa. We are focusing on four sectors – Agro-processing, Automotive, Pharmaceuticals, and Transport and Logistics.

“Across Africa, what we found is that these sectors have the highest potential for import substitution and those are the sectors we can easily make huge gains in within Africa.”

On his part, the Director of Trade Promotion at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sunny Omeiza said energy, access to finance, and multiple taxation have continued to constitute an albatross for SMEs, adding that the high cost of production in Nigeria had made the prices of commodities produced by Nigerian SMEs not competitive with the prices of products imported from other countries.

The Chairperson of the NCBA, Ebi Obaro noted that the three pillars of access to capital, technology, and markets provide essential guidance for SMEs navigating the intricacies of the global economy.

“Technology is drastically changing the future of business and holds a lot of potential for small and medium-sized enterprises. Our goal is to explore the many ways in which we can harness technology to improve efficiency and productivity in businesses in both Nigeria and Canada.”

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