Stanbic Bank Ghana Limited has said it will make its expertise in banking and advisory services available to businesses and governments in Africa to enable them to tap into opportunities under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The bank, which is a member of the Standard Bank Group, said the decision was in line with its objective to drive growth in Africa.
The Managing Director of the bank, Mr Kwamina Asomaning, said this at the Graphic Business/Stanbic Bank Breakfast Meeting in Accra yesterday.
He said a key strategic area of focus would be financing cross-border trade by supporting individuals and businesses to trade across borders to make economies sustainable and profitable to make a meaningful impact on people’s lives.
“The alignment between our group’s purpose and AfCFTA’s goals is undeniably strong, necessitating an effective collaboration between the Standard Bank Group and its affiliates and the AfCFTA community to realise our common vision,” Mr Asomaning added.
The event was on the theme: “Leveraging AfCFTA: The critical success factors”.
It was attended by captains of industry, members of the business community, investors and policy makers.
Mr Asomaning further said the bank would create opportunities by providing tailor-made working capital solutions for businesses and individuals, especially in the manufacturing, transportation and logistics sectors.
“We will also take the opportunity to avail our digital platforms to accommodate the change in traditional flow of goods, services and people. In fact, we see an opportunity to facilitate e-commerce by helping both large and small players to purchase goods and services on mobile devices and platforms to expand cross-border trade,” he stated.
The Managing Director of the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), Mr Ato Afful, said there was the need for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to leverage the potential of AfCFTA by reorienting and gearing themselves up to tap the benefits that came with the agreement.
He said for a country such as Ghana, where an estimated 80 per cent of businesses were SMEs, the AfCFTA offered enormous opportunity for them to leverage on.
Mr Afful cited estimates by experts at the Mo Ibrahim Foundation that when AfCFTA became fully operational, Africa’s GDP would increase by one per cent, employment by 1.2 per cent, while trade among African nations would rise by 33 per cent.
“It came as welcome news when African leaders took the bold and rare step to agree that what will save the continent is the aggregation and exploitation of its combined population as a guaranteed market for African goods and services to create wealth on the continent,” he said.
The Chief Executive of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), Dr Afua Asabea Asare, said as an agency, her outfit was mandated to promote non-traditional exports (NTEs) to grow the economy, for which reason it considered AfCFTA as a crucial turning point for the industrialisation and development of Africa.
She said in partnership with Stanbic Bank, GEPA embarked on a roadshow in all the 16 regions to educate the people on the relevance of AfCFTA.
Cross subsidy concept
For his part, the Vice-president of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) in charge of SMEs, Mr Humphrey Ayim Dake, said over the years, manufacturers and industry players had complained about the country’s cross subsidy concept on electricity management.
“From our deliberations, it is obvious that the cost of power to industry in the country is uncompetitive in the sub-region, and as we strive to go into AfCFTA, it is crucial for us to figure out how to harmonise the cost of electricity to look competitive in the sub-region.
“We believe that for any politician who sees beyond his party and puts the interest of the nation first, this is one of the bold decisions we expect our politicians and decision makers to take, just as was taken in the case of the financial reforms,” he added.