UBA partners with AfCFTA to invest $6bn to finance SMEs in Africa

UBA partners with AfCFTA to invest $6bn to finance SMEs in Africa

United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc on Monday, June 19, signed an agreement with the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat to invest $6 billion as funding for African Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) within the next three years.  

A breakdown of the $6 billion investment shows that a total of $1.2 billion has been budgeted for the year 2023; $1.9 billion for 2024 and $2.88 billion for 2025. 

UBA signed the agreement with AfCFTA on the sidelines of the opening ceremony of the 30th Afreximbank Annual Meeting (AAM) which was held in Accra.

By this agreement, UBA to boost intra-Africa trade, will provide financial services in four main areas which are agro-processing, automotive, pharmaceuticals, and transport and logistics, to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in all the 20 African countries where UBA operates. 

These countries are Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote D’Ivoire, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique, Gabon, Congo Brazzaville, Congo DRC, Chad and Cameroon. 

One of the key initiatives of the AfCFTA Agreement focuses on improving access to finance and markets for SMEs to encourage their growth and contribution to the socio-economic development of Africa.

UBA Group’s Deputy Managing Director, Muyiwa Akinyemi, who signed the agreement on behalf of the UBA Group, noted that as Africa’s global bank, UBA remains committed to supporting SMEs in Africa, especially given its robust network, which is spread across the 20 countries. 

He said, “We entered into this partnership because we see the future of intra-African payments developed by AfCFTA, which will ease payment constraints across 54 countries in Africa (with about 40 different currencies) powered by the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS).”

Continuing, Akinyemi said, “However, we need to develop these businesses before we can talk about helping them trade, which is the strength of UBA, as we are vital in supporting SMEs, and with our presence in 20 African countries, we say your small business is big business.”

On his part, the Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, who spoke on the agreement with UBA, emphasised the need to catalyse Africa’s industrialisation and boost intra-Africa trade to improve the socio-economic well-being of the continent and its people, which he noted was a key factor behind the partnership. 

Mene said, “The Secretariat is committed to supporting SMEs as critical drivers of African economies. We recognize the financing gap SMEs face on the continent and intend to mitigate this gap through this important partnership.

“The four identified areas of support which UBA will provide will enable SMEs to achieve industrial-driven growth and export development in Africa which aligns with the objectives of the AfCFTA.”

United Bank for Africa is one of the largest employers in the financial sector on the African continent, with 25,000 employees group-wide and serving over 35 million customers globally. 

Operating in 20 African countries and the United Kingdom, the United States of America, France and the United Arab Emirates, UBA provides retail, commercial and institutional banking services, leading financial inclusion and implementing cutting-edge technology.