Dr. Benedict Oramah, a distinguished Nigerian banker, has been sworn in as the new president of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) on Monday, September 21, at the formal inauguration ceremony held in Cairo, Egypt. He succeeds Jean-Louis Ekra, who was president from 2005, as the third leader of the continental trade finance institution. The first president of Afreximbank was also a Nigerian, Mr. Chris Edordu, making this the second time that a Nigerian would hold the office.
Following the ceremony, the new president gave a speech on his vision for the bank. In his speech, he pledged to promote and facilitate intra-African trade and make it Afreximbank’s cornerstone in the coming years.
According to Oramah, intra-African trade holds the key to a technology-driven continental growth, and will “facilitate the attainment of dynamic comparative advantage in the production and export of certain kind of manufactured goods and services and will prepare African firms for better global competition.”
On assuming his new position, Oramah stated in a news conference that the $120 billion African trade financing deficit would not be a problem under his leadership. He posited that the financing deficit was entirely a trade issue, but also one of infrastructure development, and that a growing financing gap is not strange for a developing continent like Africa which requires infrastructure.
Dr. Benedict Oramah holds an M.Sc. and a Ph.D in Agricultural Economics from the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Nigeria, and a B.Sc. degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Ibadan (UI). Nigeria. Before his latest appointment, he held various other offices at the bank, which include Chief Analyst, Senior Director, and Executive Vice President.
He was also the Chairman of the African Chapter of the International Factors Group (IFG), a leading world factoring organisation, and his chairmanship brought about the emergence of factoring companies in several African countries. He worked as an Assistant Manager, Research, for the Nigerian Export Import Bank from 1992 to 1994, before joining Afreximbank.
Afreximbank is a prominent Pan-African multilateral financial institution devoted to financing and promoting intra- and extra-African trade. It was established in October 1993 by African governments, African private and institutional investors, and non-African investors. Since 1994, Afreximbank has approved almost $35 billion in credit facilities for African businesses, including about $4.5 billion in 2014.
The Nigerian government has been credited for its history of immense support to the bank, particularly under Jean-Louis Ekra. Ekra expressed a “deep sense of assurance and enthusiasm” in handing over to Oramah, whom he described as his colleague and close collaborator. According to Ekra, Oramah demonstrated his attachment, dedication, and commitment to the growth and development of the bank throughout his tenure in several positions.
Oramah was elected as president earlier in June, in Lusaka, Zambia, following the recommendation of the bank’s Board of Directors.