A delegation from the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) were recently in Abidjan where they launched the company’s activities in the country with a series of events including a gala dinner and two forums for banks and energy sector players. The Minister of Economy and Finance, Adama Kone attended the gala dinner, where he welcomed ATI into the local market.
‘’Côte d’Ivoire’s membership will help to extend ATI activities is including in the strategy of the Ivorian government to attract more investments and diversify our economy through the increase in trade and investment’’ stated Ivorian Minister Adama Koné during the gala dinner.
ATI is a pan-African and multilateral investment guarantee agency. In Côte d’Ivoire, which has just become a member, ATI plans to support the government and the private sector in two key areas. First, when the government uses ATI’s guarantees to cover its sovereign risks, lenders will provide cheaper financing because the loan is secured by an ‘A’ rated institution. ATI can help the government reduce its borrowing costs by as much as USD2 – 3 million in interest charges annually.
Due to an overall shortage of international investment insurance capacity for most African countries, ATI will be able to help the government attract sizable inward investments and financing from international commercial banks, many of which are ATI’s clients.
The private sector will also benefit from ATI’s products. Banks, for example, will be able to use ATI’s insurance to protect against non-payment risks. This will allow banks to lend more by using ATI’s guarantees as collateral, and ultimately Cote d’Ivoire’s small and medium sized (SME) companies are expected to reap the most benefits from this collaboration.
Guy M’Bengue, CEO of Côte d’Ivoire’s Export Promotion Council (APEX-CI) and a Board member of the Private Sector Employer’s Association along with the Ministry of Economy and Finance, have both played an important role in securing Côte d’Ivoire’s membership in ATI.
Speaking during a press event prior to the launch of ATI, the company’s CEO, Mr. George Otieno noted “We are looking forward to helping Cote d’Ivoire become even more attractive to investors. We fully expect to support an average of USD500 million worth of investments and trade into the country each year, which translates to USD2 billion in the next four years.”
Côte d’Ivoire becomes the third country to join ATI in just over a year following Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, which became members in 2016. ATI’s membership drive has been made possible by the African Development Bank (AfDB), which to date has provided a combined USD30 million in soft loans for the membership subscription of Ethiopia, Côte d’Ivoire, Zimbabwe as well as an increase in the capital subscription of Benin.
In the next two years, ATI will continue to target other ECOWAS states for membership. The list includes Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Mali and Senegal. Increased membership from West African countries enables ATI to lend greater support to helping the region become an even more attractive destination for investments and trade with particular focus on sectors such as energy, water, road and rail construction and rehabilitation, building construction, agriculture and telecommunications