Baby steps

Are African banks ready to take on the trade-finance market?

By Alain Faujas

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Posted on May 17, 2021 18:06

Firefox_Screenshot_2021-05-17T09-59-42.167Z © The Moroccan group Attijariwafa bank is now catching up with international banks in the trade finance sector. Baptiste de Ville d’Avray/hanslucas
The Moroccan group Attijariwafa bank is now catching up with international banks in the trade finance sector. Baptiste de Ville d’Avray/hanslucas

Pan-African groups, especially Moroccan ones, are beginning – little by little – to gain a share of the trade-finance market. They are gradually becoming more influential as they invest in financial inclusion, support entrepreneurs and take up digital innovations.

When a European or Chinese turbine exporter wants to be sure that he will be paid by his African client – who also wants to know if the goods are on the boat – or when a Kenyan flower producer wants reassurance that they have been paid by the Amsterdam-based wholesaler who wants to be certain that the roses are on the plane, they turn to their banks.

One bank for the importer, another to the exporter and a third ‘confirming’ bank issues and guarantees the letters of credit, document collection, etc.

Trade finance seems to have been relatively unaffected by the pandemic. “After a first observation, we felt that, overall, this type of business did relatively well compared to other banking activities,” says Yoann Lhonneur, Devlhon Consulting’s associate director.

“Some countries have been more affected than others,” says Blandine Gamblin, the head of trade finance for Africa at Société

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