Zenith Bank signs agreement with AfCFTA to develop SMARTAfCFTAPORTAL

Zenith Bank Plc has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the African
Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat for the development of the
SMARTAfCFTA Portal, for trade promotion within the African continent.

The SMARTAfCFTA Portal, which has the capacity to provide information like trade indicators,
market trends, custom tariffs, trade agreements, rules of origin, market access requirements
of relevant jurisdictions, export potentials, export diversification indicators, and contact
details of business partners in target markets and other trade-related information about
Africa, will help to unlock the vast opportunities for trade on the African continent.

The MoU was signed by the Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank Plc, Dr.
Ebenezer Onyeagwu and the Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, His Excellency
Wamkele Mene, during the 8th Annual Edition of the Zenith Bank International Trade
Seminar on Non-Oil Export themed “Nigerian Non-Oil Export Industry: The Present, The
Future”, held on Wednesday, August 8, 2023, at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos
and virtually.

Speaking on the partnership with AfCFTA for the development of the SMARTAfCFTA
Portal, the Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank, Dr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, said:
“This collaboration aims to unlock the vast opportunities presented by AfCFTA not only for
Nigeria’s economic prosperity but also for advancing trade across African countries”. 

Dr. Onyeagwu noted the key role that the annual Zenith Bank Trade Seminar plays in
deepening the conversation on promoting non-oil export in Nigeria by bringing together non-
oil export practitioners and relevant government agencies to interact and explore the
opportunities and proffer solutions to the challenges of non-oil export in the country, noting
that previous editions’ outcomes have found expression and influenced policy initiatives. For
instance, the extension of the period of repatriation of Non-Oil Export proceeds from 90
days to 180 days, and the policy mandating shippers not to carry export without a Nigeria
Export Proceeds (NXP) Form Number were recommendations from previous seminars.

Also, the need to incentivize exporters to repatriate their export proceeds through the official
channels and the recommendation to create export terminals across various export hubs in
the country were also from past seminars. Also, previous editions recommended having
Export Desks in commercial banks, which has now been instituted.

In his keynote address at the Zenith Bank International Trade Seminar, the Secretary-
General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, His Excellency Wamkele Mene, thanked the Founder
and Chairman of Zenith Bank, Jim Ovia, CFR, for partnering with the AfCFTA for the
development of the SMARTAfCFTA Portal. In his words: “Zenith Bank was the first bank to
say “we want to partner with you”.

We went to see the Founder and Chairman, and he said that Zenith Bank wants to make a contribution to digitizing trade in Africa. And so the portal was not my idea, it was not our idea at the AfCTA Secretariat, it was Zenith Bank that
stepped up and said, ‘this has to be done!’. So I want to thank you very much, GMD for this

In his goodwill message, Dr. Kingsley Obiora, the Deputy Governor of Economic Policy
representing the Acting Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Folashodun Adebisi
Shonubi, commended Zenith Bank for leading Nigeria’s non-oil export promotion advocacy.
He bemoaned the 1.2 per cent non-oil export to total GDP ratio and emphasised the need
for concerted efforts to boost non-oil exports in Nigeria.

Zenith Bank launched the Non-Oil Export Seminar in 2016 as an initiative to deepen the
discourse on promoting the non-oil export business in Nigeria. The 2023 International Trade
Seminar also featured a goodwill message from the Secretary of the National Action
Committee on AfCFTA, Mr. Olusegun Awolowo. There were also two-panel discussions,
with the first panel discussion titled: “Nigeria Non-Oil Export Industry – Growth
Opportunities”, while the second-panel discussion was titled: “Harnessing the Opportunities
in Service Export”.