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Zenith Bank, AfCFTA deploy portal to boost intra-African trade

Zenpay Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Zenith Bank Plc, has signed an agreement with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat for the…

Zenpay Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Zenith Bank Plc, has signed an agreement with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat for the development and deployment of the SMARTAfCFTA portal to facilitate trade within the African continent.

The agreement, which was signed by the chairman of Zenpay Limited, Dr Ebenezer Onyeagwu and the secretary-general of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, at Zenith Bank headquarters in Lagos on Friday, was a follow-up to the memorandum of understanding (MoU), which was previously signed by both parties during the 8th Annual Edition of Zenith Bank’s International Trade Seminar on Non-Oil Export, which was held on August 8, 2023.

During the agreement signing, Onyeagwu expressed enthusiasm for the collaboration with the AfCFTA Secretariat, highlighting its significance given the current understanding of trade flows in Africa.

Onyeagwu said, “In Africa, intra-African trade constitutes only about 20 per cent of total trade, with the rest going overseas despite Africans making up 18 per cent of the world population but contributing less than 5 per cent to global gross domestic product. By trading within Africa, we anticipate building prosperity across the continent.

“This initiative is not driven by profit but by the need to support the African Continental Free Trade Area. It aims to create a unified African market, enhancing economic integration and standardising customs and practices. As we advance this agenda, we expect to see significant growth and improvement in intra-Africa trade.”

The secretary-general of the AfCFTA Secretariat shared his delight over the partnership with Zenpay Limited in developing SMARTAfCFTA. He appreciated Jim Ovia, founder and chairman of Zenith Bank Plc for his commitment to the project.

According to him, “Four years ago, we discussed and envisioned SMARTAfCFTA as a digital platform to empower small and medium enterprises and young entrepreneurs in Africa, facilitating their inclusion in trade and boosting intra-African trade.

“This platform will serve as a repository for crucial trade data, offering insights on rules of origin and market intelligence, thus playing a pivotal role in implementing the AfCFTA agreement.

“Today is a testament that working together with our African partners, in this case, Zenith Bank, shows that their commitment goes beyond their profit margins to their stakeholders, but are motivated by our shared duty towards the continent.”

Speaking about the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) alongside the SMARTAfCFTA portal, Mene described PAPSS as “Africa’s payment highway.”

He clarified that, unlike PAPSS, SMARTAfCFTA is not a payment platform itself but will be interoperable with PAPSS, allowing functionalities that facilitate easy payments.

He stated that these platforms complement each other and not in competition.

“We promote and encourage only one payment platform – PAPSS. Our goal is to integrate the digital ecosystem we are developing into PAPSS. We are committed to fostering innovation within this framework, ensuring that it supports a seamless continental payment system without creating competition among platforms.”

 

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