Over 30 participants from 18 institutions that provide guarantees and insurance in Africa gathered in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, from February 15 to 16, 2016 for the Abidjan Union, the first pan-African meeting of export credit and investments insurers in Africa.
Organised by the Private Sector and Treasury Departments of the African Development Bank (AfDB), with the sponsorship of the Initiative for Risk Mitigation in Africa funded by the Government of Italy, the meeting aimed to facilitate the creation of an information exchange network for providers of export credit and investment insurance in Africa.
In his opening remarks, AfDB’s Acting First Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer Charles Boamah highlighted the Bank’s new strategic plan. He outlined its five core priorities (High 5s), which seek to achieve inclusive, green and sustainable growth on the continent. They are: Light up and power Africa; Feed Africa; Integrate Africa; Industrialise Africa; Improve the quality of life for the African people.
“Financing Africa’s transformation will require a robust private sector in order to move from ‘billions’ in Official Development Assistance to ‘trillions’ in investments,” said Boamah. “The mobilisation of additional resources will be the key to achieving the Bank’s ambitious plan.”
Cooperation among partners was cited as crucial in realizing the full potential of investment in Africa. Alfonso Di Riso, Italy’s Ambassador to the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, said, “Resource mobilisation will need to rely on greater cooperation among all institutions providing risk mitigation on the continent.” He affirmed his country’s support saying, “This is a need that the Italian Government has recognised and has committed to help address together with AfDB through the establishment of the Initiative for Risk Mitigation in Africa (IRMA). The initiative was founded in 2010.”
Institutions represented at the meeting included the AfDB, Agence Française de Développement, African Export-Import Bank, African Guarantee Fund, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the International Finance Corporation. In addition to these were the Berne Union, Export Credit Insurance Corporation of South Africa, Export Guarantee Company of Egypt, Finnvera plc, and Guarantco, among others.
Participants presented the different guarantees and insurance products and services offered by their respective bodies in order to overcome the financial gap for development projects in Africa. Break-out sessions served as innovation labs where the delegates discussed and explored new mechanisms to support trade and project finance in Africa.
Topi Vesteri, President of the Berne Union, lauded the gathering, which came to be known as Abidjan Union. He said: “The Abidjan Union meeting is an excellent example of bringing together African and non-African risk experts for knowledge- and risk-sharing, thus laying foundations to contribute to stability and growth for trade and investment.”
He stated the importance of identifying possible gaps and finding ways to bridge them, adding, “This requires a more regular exchange of ideas by institutions with capacity to assume trade and investment risks.”
The second Abidjan Union meeting is planned for 2017.