The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and Nigeria Export-Import Bank (Nexim) have agreed to establish a new fund to boost early project financing and technical support services to public and private entities engaged in trade in Nigeria.

Afreximbank says in a statement that the initiative will assist the early development process of projects from concept stage to bankability, by covering the preparation of feasibility studies, project development and advisory services and related costs.

Support will be targeted at a raft of sectors, including manufacturing, agro-processing, solid minerals development and other beneficiation services.

An Afreximbank spokesperson tells GTR that the two institutions are currently deliberating over how much each will bank provide to the fund, but the plan is to mobilise up to US$50mn.

They add that Afreximbank will take the lead on the technical aspects and undertake the analysis and assessment of the projects, with projects then approved by a joint committee comprising of representatives from both banks.

“This intervention is timely as the fund will play a catalytic role in accelerating the diversification of the Nigerian economy by ensuring a steady flow of bankable projects in priority tradable sectors in a timely manner,” says Benedict Oramah, Afreximbank president.

“In addition to enhancing bankability, the fund will, on a case-by-case basis, undertake feasibility studies to assess the viability of accessing markets in the sub-region, thereby promoting intra-African trade under the AfCFTA,” he adds.

Nigeria’s crude oil-reliant economy has been hard hit by the impact of Covid-19, with the pandemic causing a steep drop in global demand for the commodity in the past year.

According to the World Bank, oil accounts for over 80% of the nation’s exports, a third of banking sector credit, and half of government revenues.

The World Bank forecast in a December report that due to a “sharp fall” in oil prices, the Nigerian economy would contract by 4% in 2020, “plunging the country into its deepest recession since the 1980s”.