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Nigeria: Zenith Bank, AfCFTA Introduce Innovative Smart Trade Portal

Zenpay Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Zenith Bank Plc, has entered into an Agreement with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat. This collaboration aims to create and implement the SMARTAfCFTA Portal, facilitating trade across the African continent.

The agreement, signed by Dr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, Chairman of Zenpay Limited, and His Excellency Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, took place at the Zenith Bank Headquarters in Victoria Island, Lagos, on May 3, 2024. This agreement builds upon the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by both parties during Zenith Bank’s 8th Annual International Trade Seminar on Non-Oil Export on August 8, 2023.

During the agreement signing, Dr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, Chairman of Zenpay Limited, expressed his enthusiasm for the collaboration with the AfCFTA Secretariat, highlighting its significance given the current understanding of trade flows in Africa. Dr. Onyeagwu noted, “In Africa, intra-African trade constitutes only about 20% of total trade, with the rest going overseas, despite Africans making up 18% of the world population but contributing less than 5% to global GDP. By trading within Africa, we anticipate building prosperity across the continent.” He further stated, “This initiative is not driven by profit but by the need to support the African Continental Free Trade Area. It aims to create a unified African market, enhancing economic integration and standardising customs and practices. As we advance this agenda, we expect tosee significant growth and improvement in intra-Africa trade.”

Also speaking during the agreement signing, His Excellency, Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, shared his delight over the partnership with Zenpay Limited in developing SMARTAfCFTA. He appreciated Jim Ovia, CFR, Founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, for his commitment to the project. According to him, “Four years ago, we discussed and envisioned SMARTAfCFTA as a digital platform to empower SMEs and young entrepreneurs in Africa, facilitating their inclusion in trade and boosting intra-African trade. This platform will serve as a repository for crucial trade data, offering insights on rules of origin and market intelligence, thus playing a pivotal role in implementing the AfCFTA agreement. Today is a testament that working together with our African partners in this case, Zenith bank, shows that their commitment goes beyond their progit margins to their stakeholders, but are motivated by our shared duty towards the Continent.”

Speaking about the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) alongside the SMARTAfCFTA portal,  H.E. Mene described PAPSS as “Africa’s payment highway.” He clarified that, unlike PAPSS, SMARTAfCFTA is not a payment platform itself but will be interoperable with PAPSS, allowing functionalities that facilitate easy payments. He emphasised that these platforms complement each other; they are not in competition. “We promote and encourage only one payment platform—PAPSS. Our goal is to integrate the digital ecosystem we are developing into PAPSS. We are committed to fostering innovation within this framework, ensuring it supports a seamless continental payment system without creating competition among platforms.”

SMARTAfCFTA is a digital platform strategically crafted to enhance international trade by furnishing essential information and resources to both the African private and public sectors. The portal is engineered to simplify and unleash extensive trade prospects throughout the African continent. It possesses the capability to furnish comprehensive details such as trade indicators, market dynamics, customs tariffs, trade pacts, Rules of Origin, market entry requisites of pertinent jurisdictions, export opportunities, diversification indicators, and contact information of business collaborators in target markets, alongside other pertinent trade-related insights concerning Africa.

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