The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), has pledged to continue to expand and develop African trade through the improvement of air transport infrastructure in the continent.
The Global Head, Client Relations for Afreximbank, Rene Awambeng, made this known on Thursday at the Russian Aviation Road-Show organised by the bank in collaboration with the Russian Export Centre (REC) in Abuja.
He noted that the aviation sector was one of the key sectors that would enhance both intra-African and extra-African trade and indeed encourage and promote the continent’s global exports.
Awambeng said that the partnership between Afreximbank and REC was in fulfilment of the Afreximbank objective of improving the continent’s air transport infrastructure which was critical to the development of trade.
He said, “The founding fathers, the visionary leaders who set up the bank set a clear aim for us to expand and develop and diversify the African trade.
“What we are doing today is a big step towards improving the continent’s air transport infrastructure which is critical to the development of trade.
“The ease and efficient movement of goods and people is a fundamental requirement to assist and increase the levels of intra-African trade.
“As part of our strategic objective at the bank to promote trade, we see the aviation sector as one of the key sectors that would enhance both intra-African and extra-African trade and indeed encourage and promote the continent’s global exports.”
Awambeng added that African businessmen and women had been facing challenges in exporting their goods and services because lack of adequate transport infrastructure to move their goods and services away from the production centre.
He said that a farm in the northern part of Nigeria, for instance, required efficient means of transportation to get its goods to the southern part of Nigeria through either rail or air.
He said, “If you have a vegetable farm that grows tomatoes and you cannot transport it to the market, how do you get return on all your hard work?
“So, this initiative is to be able to provide transport infrastructure so that you can be able to move both goods and services.
“Trade in Africa is very sensitive to transport cost. The research by the World Bank is that by reducing at least 10 percent of transport cost, you are going to improve trade by 25 percent.
“You have to pay exorbitant cost today to be able to transport your goods and services because there is the lack of infrastructure and lack of existing airlines.
“The air transport action group tells us that the aviation sector supported more than 6.8 million jobs in the world, generating over $72.5 billion to African economies in 2014.
“So imagine if we put infrastructure in the aviation sector in Nigeria, how many jobs is that going to create, what support is that going to bring to the GDP of the country?’’
Awambeng said that the rising middle class on the continent and in Nigeria particularly would significantly lead to strong demand for air travel in Africa.
He further said that the increase in passenger traffic would justify the requirement for more investment in air transport infrastructure to support Africa’s trade growth and development objectives.
“We at the Afreximbank are focusing on air transport as a priority and we have entered into a strategic partnership with REC to develop this strategy,” he said.