Nigerian banker Dr Benedict Oramah on Monday in Cairo took over the leadership of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) as the third president of the continental trade finance institution.
The colourful ceremony was presided over by Alexander Chikwanda, Minister of Finance of Zambia and Chairman of the General Meeting of Shareholders of the bank.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Oramah takes over from Jean-Louis Ekra, who has led the institution since 2005.
Ekra replaced Christopher Edordu, the pioneer president, who served terms starting with the bank’s creation in 1993.
In a speech setting out his vision for the bank, Oramah pledged to make the promotion and facilitation of intra-African trade the cornerstone of Afreximbank’s work in the years ahead.
“I believe that intra-African trade holds the key to a technology-driven growth on our continent.
“The trade will facilitate the attainment of dynamic comparative advantage in the production and export of certain kind of manufactured goods and services and will prepare African firms for better global competition,” Oramah said.
He said that the bank would work to create the capacity for export manufacturing, especially light manufactures, by shifting resources more to the financing of the import of investment or capital goods.
Earlier, Ekra expressed appreciation to the Nigerian government for its support in the early part of his presidency — when it hosted him in the wake of the crisis that emerged at the bank.
“Without the support of the Nigerian Government during that critical period, the crisis could have had irretrievable adverse impact on the bank,” Ekra said.
Ekra said that despite challenges during the early part of his presidency and recurrent adverse macroeconomic shocks that followed, the bank grew its assets more than 10 folds.
He said the bank grew from about half a billion dollars in 2006 to more than $6 billion in June 2015, with loans accounting for more than 80 per cent of total assets.
He said that although the financial results over the period were remarkable, more gratification was to be drawn from the development impact of the bank, including the banks Africa Cocoa Initiative.
According to him, Africa produces 80 per cent of world cocoa.
Ekra expressed a “deep sense of assurance and enthusiasm to hand over the leadership of Afreximbank to Oramah.”
He described Oramah as “a man who, for nearly two decades as my colleague and close collaborator, demonstrated time and time again, his attachment, dedication, commitment to growth and development of the bank.”
Until his appointment, Oramah was Afreximbank’s Executive Vice-President in charge of Corporate Banking and Business Development.
He was a pioneer staff of the bank, which he joined in 1994 as Chief Analyst, rising to the position of Senior Director, Planning and Business Development Department in 2007.
He previously served as Assistant Manager (Research) at the Nigerian Export-Import Bank from 1992 to 1994.
He completed his advanced education at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, where he obtained an M.Sc. and a Ph.D. in agricultural economics in 1987 and 1991 respectively.
He had received a B.Sc., also in agricultural economics, from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, in 1983.
Oramah’s appointment followed a recommendation by the bank’s Board of Directors.
Under the terms of the Afreximbank Charter, presidents of the bank are appointed by the General Meeting of Shareholders upon the recommendation of the Board of Directors, and serve for terms of five years, renewable only once.
The formal selection process for the new president began in January 2015 with the publication of a call for applications in the international media and on the Afreximbank website.
Applicants are subsequently shortlisted and interviewed in a process managed by an international human resources consulting firm.
The names of the four top candidates were forwarded to the Board of Directors, which then recommended the preferred candidate to the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders.
The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is the foremost Pan-African multilateral financial institution devoted to financing and promoting intra- and extra-African trade.
The Bank was established in October 1993 by African governments, African private and institutional investors, and non-African investors.
Its two basic constitutive documents are the Establishment Agreement, which gives it the status of an international organization, and the Charter, which governs its corporate structure and operations.
Since 1994, Afreximbank has approved almost $35 billion in credit facilities for African businesses, including about $4.5 billion in 2014.
Afreximbank is headquartered in Cairo, Egypt.

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