AfCFTA and United Bank for Africa partner to finance SMEs for intra-Africa trade
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat and United Bank for Africa (UBA) signed an agreement on Tuesday to provide financial support to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) within the AfCFTA in order to boost intra-Africa trade.
The agreement was signed on the sidelines of the Afreximbank Annual Meeting 2023 taking place in Accra, Ghana.
The agreement is also intended to catalyse industrialisation to improve the socio-economic well-being of the continent.
According to the McKinsey consulting firm, Africa’s 85-95 million SMEs account for 80 percent of the continent’s private sector employment, which makes their growth extremely important.
The agreement acknowledges the need to bolster formal and informal economic operators, including women and youth.
It also aims to break down the barriers to intra-Africa trade and productivity, including SME access to finance and markets.
Under the agreement, the UBA will provide financial services to SMEs in four main areas: agro-processing, automotive, pharmaceuticals, transport and logistics
During the signing, Wamkele Mene, secretary-general of the AfCFTA Secretariat, noted that the support offered by the UBA, “will enable SMEs achieve industrial driven growth and export development in Africa.”
For his part, Muyiwa Akinyemi, deputy managing director at UBA, observed that the bank has a robust network spread across 20 countries on the continent.
“In UBA, we say your small business is big business,” he said
The agreement will “make the continental free trade area a reality,” Akinyemi concluded.