Pres Ali to address Afreximbank meeting in Bahamas today

…as Bank’s Senior VP calls for strengthening of trade, investment flows between Africa-C’bean

President Dr Irfaan Ali on Wednesday travelled to The Bahamas and is expected to deliver the keynote address today at the 31st Annual Meetings (AAM) of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the 3rd AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF), which are being held simultaneously in Nassau.
The Guyanese leader, who will be speaking in his capacity as Chairman of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) will be joined by his regional colleagues, Prime Minister of The Bahamas, Philip Davis, and Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, as well as Ghanaian President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, as the top headliners at the meeting being held from June 12 to 14.

President Dr Irfaan Ali arrives in Nassau, Bahamas on Wednesday for the 31st Afreximbank Annual Meetings & the 3rd AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum

The three-day AAM and ACTIF, which is being held under the overarching theme ‘Owning our Destiny: Economic Prosperity on the Platform of Global Africa’ will also see numerous other high-profile speakers from Africa and the Caribbean including Central Bank Governors, CEOs, industry leaders, trade practitioners, trade finance experts, members of the academia, senior public figures, celebrities, and more.
During a soft opening ceremony on Wednesday, Senior Executive Vice President of the Afreximbank, Denys Denya, posited that the holding of the bank’s annual meeting in The Bahamas – the first in the Caribbean – is historic in shaping the course of Africa’s and the Caribbean’s shared vision and aspirations.
He noted that despite being endowed with an abundance of natural resources, Africa’s quest for sustainable development has been a perennial struggle – something which the Caribbean, though not identical, experiences when it comes to its development.
Against this backdrop, the banks Senior VP underscored the need for the two regions to unify their forces in the context of ‘Global Africa’ for a better future.
“In our unity, we have the number, we have the voice to sit at the table when decisions are made. Our combined imagination and resources should create a viable force for a competitive edge,” Denya stated.
The Afreximbank official went onto highlight that despite its close relations, trade between Africa and the Caribbean remains exceptionally low compared to intraregional trade in other regions.
Consequently, he pointed out that “…strengthening trade and investment flows amongst ourselves is a crucial step towards generational wealth creation. Also, deepening trade and investment flows will promote and enhance interconnectivity while contributing our capacity to withstand global shocks.”
He added, “It is time to change the narrative. I know the task is enormous but so is our resolve and courage… We must unite and change the course of our destiny and economic fortunes.”
Reinvigorate, reenergise
According to Denya, the three-day meeting will provide the platform to deliver outcomes that will reinvigorate, reenergise and equip stakeholders with a pragmatic strategic option in their quest for development and economic prosperity.
“We have come to a point where we cannot afford to rely on the generosity or pity of others to continue to wait for non-maturing promissory notes in the form of aid and grants. The imperatives for our unity are enormous,” he said and while further quoting Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, Denya added “…we must unite or we perish.”
AAM and ACTIF are attended by business and political leaders, banking industry professionals, trade and trade finance practitioners and other parties involved in economic development from across Africa, the Caribbean and beyond. The Meetings, which have been ranked among the most important gatherings of economic decision makers in Africa and CARICOM, are covered by the African, Caribbean and international media.
Only last year, Guyana hosted the AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF23) from October 30 to 31, 2023 in Georgetown, where President Ali challenged the regional private sector to collaborate with their African counterparts to develop a consortium, to solve some of the perennial challenges facing the region, including transportation.
President Ali emphasised to the Heads of Government and delegates in attendance that “Every single state of CARICOM has made it clear that we will give all the incentives necessary to facilitate the building of a regional transport infrastructure system to solve the problem of regional transportation… All the governments in the region, we have made it clear, we will support such a consortium on investment through incentives and promotion. The private sector must get up and put that consortium in place, partner with Afreximbank and end this problem.”
His remarks came as he noted that the south-south trade potential between Africa and the Caribbean is estimated at US$16 trillion, and there are multiple opportunities on which the countries of the regions can capitalise.
In fact, the Guyanese Leader disclosed that his government has approached Afreximbank for a US$500 million bridge financing that can be used to fund the Administration’s massive infrastructure programme.
Afreximbank opened a Caribbean office in Barbados in August 2023 and has provided a USD 1.5 billion line of credit to the region.
Meanwhile, earlier this year in April, a delegation from the Afreximbank, led by its President Professor Benedict Oramah, visited Guyana and met with President Ali and other senior government officials.
During that engagement, discussions were held on exploring investment opportunities in various areas. (G8)