By Joshua Yousouph
In a bid to strengthen advocacy for development and participation in the commercial fortunes of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement, the Chairperson, Sealink Transnational Company, Mrs Dabney Shall-Holma has said that there is no challenge of accessing funds for maritime and other business players in Africa.
In an exclusive interview with Shipping Position Daily last week, Mrs Shall-Holma informed that there are several funding opportunities for maritime and other business investors in Africa, adding that the African Development Bank (ADF), African Export–Import Bank (Afreximbank) and other Development Banks have created a window for port infrastructure and trade development.
As against the impression by Africans that there is a challenge of accessing funds for business and trade development as barriers to full participation in AfCFTA, Shall-Holma noted that there are no funding barriers.
Shall-Holma who was a Director at the Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC) however, informed that the only major requirement to access funds from these development banks is to have a bankable project with a strong value proposition. She also noted that the interest rate on these funds is very minimal.
According to her, “there is no challenge of financing anything in Africa. I had the same perception until I started this project and I discovered that there is none. We have the African Development Bank that is willing to give money. We have the Africa Import Export Bank that has created a window for port infrastructure and trade development. So you don’t have any barriers. The most important thing is that you must have a bankable project with a strong value proposition”.
“There is no interest. If anyone is giving you grant funding, he is actually opening a pathway for you, and the interest is minimal because they are development banks and not commercial banks. We don’t go to development banks, we go to commercial banks who are also trade enablers like us. So we share the same goal” Shall-Holma noted.
Also speaking at the sideline of the 9th African Shippers’ Day which was held in Lagos last week, the Technical Adviser to the Managing Director and CEO of the Nigerian Export-Import (NEXIM) Bank, Mr. Hope Yongo, noted that some organizations have come to NEXIM Bank to explore avenues to enhance export of solid minerals like the Ajaokuta Steel Company, while the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has also been partnering with NEXIM Bank for crucial investments in viable inland waterways.
Yongo also informed that there are several funding packages and benefits for interested ship owners and maritime stakeholders with bankable projects for the development of coastal shipping through the opportunities embedded in AfCFTA.
In his words: “Nigeria is endowed with solid minerals, about 38 valuable solid minerals, but no one reckons with the nation in this regard because of the numerous challenges with infrastructure in moving these commodities. Coal, iron ore, lead and zinc, among others, aren’t being explored optimally for export because of infrastructure challenges. One of the things that NEXIM bank does is to ensure that we harness the inland waterways transport system to evacuate these commodities,” Yongo said.
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