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CBZ gets US$80m shot in the arm from Afreximbank to boost exports

Haytham Elmaayergi, executive vice president Global Trade Bank Africa, Afreximbank, and CBZ Bank acting managing director Smangele Mandidi after the signing of two credit lines worth US$80 million in Nassau, The Bahamas, on Wednesday. The facilities are earmarked for CBZ's exporting customers.

NASSAU, The Bahamas - Zimbabwe's biggest bank, CBZ Bank, secured a much-needed lifeline on Wednesday, signing two credit lines worth US$80 million with Afreximbank to channel funds towards exporters.

The deal comes as a welcome relief for Zimbabwean traders, who have grappled with limited access to US dollars, the dominant currency in a highly dollarised economy. According to national statistics agency, ZimStat, about 85% of all transactions are conducted in USD.

The credit lines, inked on the sidelines of Afreximbank's annual meetings in Nassau, comprise a US$60 million receivables-backed facility and a US$20 million tranche under Afreximbank's Trade Facilitation Programme (AFTRAF).

Both are underpinned by export earnings, said CBZ Bank acting MD, Smangele Mandidi.

"Our ability to support our customers with USD funding has been hampered by the dollarised environment," said Mandidi. "These credit lines bridge that gap. The export-backed nature of the facilities mitigates risk."

She further elaborated that the AFTRAF tranche offers reduced risk as it leverages letters of credit (LCs) for financing.

"Our balance sheet growth has been restricted due to funding limitations," Mandidi continued. "We're energised because we have a ready pipeline [of applicants] for this facility."

The AFTRAF component boasts a tenor of up to 270 days, aligning with typical trade cycles, while LCs can be refinanced for up to 120 days.

"The facility can be utilised for operational or capital expenditures," Mandidi said. "For capital expenditure, the tenor can extend up to three years, while operational expenditures will naturally have shorter terms."

AFTRAF bolsters trust among counterparties in the settlement of international trade transactions and fosters stronger correspondent banking relationships. The program supports critical imports into Africa, fuels intra-African trade, and facilitates the acquisition of equipment for the production of export goods. It offers trade confirmation services, guarantees, and irrevocable reimbursement undertakings.

The programme was designed to counter the rising trend of international banks withdrawing or reducing credit lines to African banks due to de-risking practices. Afreximbank offers AFTRAF as a response to the growing challenges African banks face in maintaining correspondent banking relationships due to stricter global compliance and regulatory requirements.

The programme allows local banks to leverage AFTRAF's trade confirmation guarantees to expand their network of correspondent banks.

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