$1.5bn facility to support African economies recover from COVID-19

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has partnered with the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), the Trade Finance Arm of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), and the Arab Bank For Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) to launch a $1.5-billion Collaborative COVID-19 Pandemic Response Facility (COPREFA) to support African economies with rapid financial assistance to reduce the impact of COVID-19.

COPREFA will be accessed by eligible central banks, commercial banks and businesses to finance the import of medical supplies, as well as agricultural equipment and fertilizers essential for addressing the pressing food production deficit.

COPREFA is also designed to support African economies to overcome a myriad of challenges, including commodity price shocks, a significant drop in tourism, and disruption to supply chains and export manufacturing. It will also address the sudden declines in financial flows, including a drop off in trade and project finance, migrant remittances, portfolio investment and Foreign Direct Investments.

The co-financed facility, led by Afreximbank  leverages strategic partnerships with other Multilateral Financial Institutions and other international financial institutions in co-financing, risk sharing of transactions and promoting integrated trade solutions,  to support African economies on navigating the impact of COVID-19.

Prof Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has devasted many economies. Africa has not been spared. Afreximbank’s priority has always been to step-up when markets fall. That is why we are supporting African economies forcefully at the time of great difficulties. COPREFA, a product of a unique international partnership, is a major contribution to the global fight against the pandemic and will work alongside our other programs to ensure Africa’s future remains bright beyond this economic shock. We thank our partners for the confidence.”

A key attribute of the COPREFA facility is the speed at which financial assistance can be provided through all partners involved. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be fast-paced, requiring support that can be deployed quickly and flexibly to prevent sharp declines in national economies.

Standard eligibility criteria and credit appraisal process have been developed by COPREFA partners in order to facilitate implementation of the facility. Support will be available through direct funding, lines of credit, confirmation and refinancing of documentary credits; guarantees, cross-currency swaps and other similar instruments.

Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, CEO of ITFC, said: “Providing fiscal bandwidth and practical support to SMEs and medical communities in African countries will deliver immediate relief from the supply side restraints on personal protective equipment caused by the pandemic. ITFC has worked extensively since the very start of the COVID-19 outbreak to provide comprehensive support to some of the most vulnerable countries. The multilateral arrangement that ITFC is embarking upon with our strategic partners will boost economic activity when and where it is needed most and help many countries maintain food security at a time when global commodity supply chains are being challenged and import activity sharply reduced.”

Dr Sidi Ould TAH, Director General of BADEA, said: “DFI’s as the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), with its partners, have been and will always be; supporting the continent through tough and good times as a reliable, strong and resourceful financial institution. And since the COVID-19 pandemic posed drastic challenges that are reshaping the scene of the global economy, we sought that it will require an unprecedent cooperation and measures to tackle these challenges.

BADEA has joined the fight against the pandemic by allocating a gross amount of more than $350 million in the COPREFA and other initiatives. These allocations will be utilised to ease the negative impacts of the pandemic on African economies and ensure the flow of essential strategic commodities to the continent.”

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