The Group Chief Executive Officer, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), Ade Ayeyemi, has affirmed that the pan-African banking group is facilitating smooth and instant payments across Africa as countries start the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA). Ayeyemi who made this assertion during an interview with the media recently pointed out that Ecobank has been able to effect international payment across the 33 countries where it operates on the continent through its Rapid Transfer platform. He reiterated that the bank's platform can be scaled to accommodate other African countries under the AfCFTA based on their respective regulations.
According to the Ecobank Group Chief, the banking group is one of the key supporters of the AfCFTA which he believes will be of great benefit to both the continent and customers of the bank. "With this Pan-African exposure, the governments and our customers will re-evaluate their businesses to efficiently take charge of bigger opportunities. So, if you manufacture goods in Aba for the Nigerian market, you can now start thinking of how to expand your manufacturing capacity to be able to export across West Africa and also other African countries, not just looking at Nigeria as a market alone. And as you change your demand forecast, you need to now improve your capacity to produce and that will mean importing new machinery to expand your manufacturing base, develop bigger market and hire more people."
He is optimistic that the introduction of the AfCFTA would curb the regulations and government policies limiting the flow of foreign exchange. "Banks will work with other banks like Afrexim Bank to provide a swift payment platform as Africa will be the first market for most African products. For instance, there is no need for Nigeria to import rubber from Malaysia when rubber is being exported by Cote d'Ivoire. It is better within the African space. So, there is a whole range of businesses that we are having conversations with our customers, the governments and the African Union, because of our pan-African presence."
The AfCFTA which came into effect this January, aims at creating a single African wide market for goods and services. It will pave the way for rapid dismantling of impediments to cross-border trade leading to free movement of business, persons and investments across the continent, thus leading to the establishment of the Customs Union. It will bring together all 55 AU member states, covering a market of more than 1.2 billion people. It is set to be the world's largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization In terms of numbers of participating countries.