By Etuka Sunday
The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has delivered a training programme for Zimbabwean banks in an effort to enhance their technical skills in trade finance.
The documentary trade finance training, held in Harare from 24 to 29 March, attracted 44 participants from 15 commercial banks, one non-bank financial institution and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
The six-day programme consisted of two three-day sessions focused on the operational aspects of trade finance.
Topics covered included documentary letters of credit, bills for collection, bank guarantees, relevant International Chamber of Commerce rules, compliance issues related to trade finance and risks in international business and ways of mitigating them.
Case studies of real-life scenarios were reviewed and participants were taken through a practical review session on common errors that had been noticed in trade finance instruments issued by Zimbabwean banks in order to help them learn from the errors.
Based on the discussions and feedback received, the banks agreed to work towards designing a model letter of credit verbiage to cover key commodity imports. The model letter, which is expected to be endorsed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, would be adopted, going forward, by all the banks.
The training programme was organised in line with Afreximbank’s Trade Finance leadership pillar under which it seeks to play a leading role in matters relating to the development of trade finance in Africa, said Humphrey Nwugo, the Bank’s Regional Chief Operating Officer for Southern Africa, at the opening.
“According to the World Trade Organization, some 80 per cent to 90 per cent of world trade relies on trade finance,” he told the participants. “That is the opportunity we, as trade financiers, are sitting on, with anecdotal evidence pointing to a trade finance gap in Africa in excess of $100-billion.”
Also speaking, Okechukwu Ihejirika, Senior Manager, Trade Services, at Afreximbank, said that the training was aimed at helping participants to become better professionals in trade finance matters while ensuring alignment with global best practice in terms of trade finance instruments originating from Zimbabwe.
The programme covered topics up to the intermediate level, with Afreximbank announcing plans to deliver an advanced level course to the group in the future and to hold sessions in other countries.
The programme is also part of the Afreximbank Academy through which the Bank is promoting knowledge in Africa.
The Afreximbank delegation also included Ernest Ahiagbe, Manager, Trade Services; Victor Mashoko, Manager, Trade Finance, Southern Africa; and Andrew Masuwa, Manager, Client Relations.