Zenith Bank Plc has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat for the development of the SMARTAfCFTA Portal, for trade promotion within the African continent.
The bank said in a statement that, the SMARTAfCFTA Portal had the capacity to provide information like trade indicators, market trends, custom tariffs, trade agreements, rules of origin, and market access requirements of relevant jurisdictions.
It said its capacity provided information on export potentials, export diversification indicators and contact details of business partners in target markets and other trade-related information about Africa.
These, it added, would help to unlock the vast opportunities for trade on the African continent.
The bank said the MoU was signed by the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Zenith Bank Plc, Dr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, and the Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, during the 8th annual edition of the Zenith Bank International trade seminar on non-oil export themed, ‘Nigerian non-oil export industry: The present, the future’, which held on Wednesday, in Lagos and virtually.
Speaking on the partnership with AfCFTA for the development of the SMARTAfCFTA Portal, Onyeagwu, said, “This collaboration aims to unlock the vast opportunities presented by AfCFTA, not only for Nigeria’s economic prosperity but also for advancing trade across African countries.”
Onyeagwu noted the key role that the annual Zenith Bank Trade Seminar played in deepening the conversation on promoting non-oil export in Nigeria.
The seminar, he said, brought together non-oil export practitioners and relevant government agencies to interact and explore the opportunities, and proffer solutions to the challenges of non-oil export in the country.
He noted that previous editions’ outcomes had found expression and influenced policy initiatives.
For instance, he said, the extension of the period of repatriation of non-oil export proceeds from 90 days to 180 days, and the policy mandating shippers not to carry export without a Nigeria Export Proceeds Form Number, were recommendations from previous seminars.
Also, the need to incentivise exporters to repatriate their export proceeds through the official channels and the recommendation to create export terminals across various export hubs in the country were also from past seminars.
Previous editions recommended having export desks in commercial banks, which had now been instituted, the bank said.
In his keynote address Mene, thanked the Founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank, Jim Ovia, for partnering with the AfCFTA for the development of the SMARTAfCFTA Portal.
He said, “Zenith Bank was the first bank to say ‘we want to partner with you’. We went to see the founder and chairman, and he said that Zenith Bank wants to make a contribution to digitise trade in Africa.
“And so the portal was not my idea, it was not our idea at the AfCTA Secretariat, it was Zenith Bank that stepped up and said, ‘this has to be done!’. So I want to thank you very much, GMD for this collaboration.”
In his goodwill message, the Deputy Governor of Economic Policy, Dr. Kingsley Obiora, representing the acting Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Folashodun Shonubi, commended Zenith Bank for leading Nigeria’s non-oil export promotion advocacy.