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Fresh push to deepen Africa, Caribbean ties

Afreximbank president and chairman of board of directors Benedict Oramah (standing second left) and Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas Philip Davis watch as Anne Ezeh, Afreximbank’s director communications and events, and Creswell Sturrup, permanent secretary in the Office of Prime Minister, Government of Commonwealth of The Bahamas sign the agreement for the Caribbean State to host the 31st Afreximbank annual meetings and the third edition of the AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum

Ties between Africa and the Caribbean are set to deepen with The Bahamas set to host the 31st annual meetings of Afreximbank, the first time the event will be held in the region.

Since the African Union’s recognition of the African diaspora as Africa’s sixth region, there has been a push to bolster ties between the two regions.

Afreximbank’s president Benedict Oramah said last week’s signing ceremony for The Bahamas to host the 31st Afreximbank Annual Meetings and the third edition of the AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum from June 12 to 14 set the stage for an event which “will happen beyond contemplation” a few years ago.

“It will solidify the partnership between Afreximbank and CARICOM state, a union that forms the platform for global Africa to take its destiny into its own hands,” Oramah said.

The Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Davis said the AGM meeting “is a symbol of what we accomplish through unity and collaboration”.

“In today’s world amid economic and environmental challenges, we choose collective advancement over self-preservation. Instead of building walls, we choose instead to build bridges, bridges of trade, of innovation, financial integration and most importantly, bridges connecting our people and cultures,” he said at the signing of the host agreement.

Davis said Africa and the Caribbean ancestors’ history is marked by strength in the face of adversity, beauty and creativity even amid scarcity and a relentless pursuit of self-determination.

“In the Caribbean, our forebears who traversed the vast expanse of the Atlantic not by choice, but force today united us in a cause that is far greater than the ocean that separates us.  Their dreams, struggles and their hopes are encapsulated in this moment as we forge a future where Africa and the Caribbean stand shoulder to shoulder not just in solidarity but in economic collaboration for mutual prosperity,” he said.

“We are commemorating the union of dreams; the dreams of our ancestors and the dreams of future generations that we plan to realise through unity, collaboration and mutual respect,” Davis said.

Oramah said a lot has happened in two years with 11 out of the 15 CARICOM states having signed the Afreximbank partnership agreement.

The pan African bank approved a US$1,5bn for the Caribbean which will double to US$3bn once all the remaining States sign the agreement, Oramah said.

A pipeline of US$2,4bn has been built with St Lucia getting the first Afreximbank facility early this year.Last year, Caribbean Development Bank became the first shareholder of Afreximbank from CARICOM.

Afreximbank, Oramah said, is working with the CARICOM Secretariat to create the bloc’s Exim Bank in which the pan African bank will be an anchor investor “if CARICOM States agree”.

Afreximbank has been pushing to expand into the Caribbean in line with its Diaspora Strategy and the African Union’s designation of the African Diaspora as the continent’s sixth region.

This gave birth to the AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum which debuted in Barbados last year. The second edition of the AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum was held in Guyana in October.

In January, Afreximbank made its first disbursement from the Caribbean Office in Barbados with a US$6m education rehabilitation climate-linked sovereign term loan facility to St. Lucia.

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