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The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (Opic) and the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI), a World Bank and pan-African state-supported export credit agency established to promote trade and investment in

  • Africa, have concluded a memorandum of understanding intended to facilitate increased levels of private investment in Africa.

    Opic president and CEO Peter Watson says the agreement “will do much to uncover the great secret of doing business in Africa, which is that rates of return on investment on the continent typically reach 30%, compared to 10% in the European Union.”

    Bernard de Haldevang, chief executive and managing director of ATI, who signed the MOU with Jim Williams, regional director for Africa for Opic political risk insurance, says, “The MOU establishes a framework for enhanced cooperation between Opic and ATI which includes increased information-sharing; collaboration in investment development and promotion activities; the identification of specific developmental activities appropriate for joint support; and the sharing of resources necessary to support such projects. We look forward to the opportunities that this MOU will facilitate for the benefit of our clients and to the economies of our supporting member states.”

    He adds: “We are delighted to be able to work with Opic in the future and believe that the combined products of the two agencies will provide a powerful tool for the financial services industry and for exporters, importers and investors to encourage trade and investment into and within Africa. Opic is a powerful partner who brings to this cooperation a wealth of experience and considerable leverage. We are convinced that the economies of the member states of ATI will benefit enormously from this association. This development follows ATI’s policy of building partnerships with both private market and official export credit and investment insurers around the globe in order to be able to provide the most competitive solutions to its clients.”

    ATI is a pan-African initiative supported by the World Bank and the EU, whose objective is to encourage trade and investment in Africa by facilitating access to, and improving the terms of, trade finance for imports into and exports from, as well as trade among participating African countries. ATI, which is also supported by Lloyd’s of London underwriters and the Gerling NCM credit insurance group, will achieve this objective by making available to exporters trade credit and political risk insurance for trade and investment transactions.

    With the objective of becoming a pan-African agency, ATI brings together currently eight African countries willing to address the market’s perception by setting up a credible insurance mechanism against losses caused by credit and political risks, with ATI’s member countries partially assuming financial liability for the political risks affecting trade within their own countries.

    ATI’s target market includes African companies from ATI member countries exporting goods and/or services to other ATI member countries and foreign banks/financial institutions financing exports to or within ATI member countries. All African countries are eligible to participate in the project and become participating countries.

    In a very recent development, ATI has also just obtained the green light to extend its product range to cover payment risks on public buyers, provide cover against terrorism physical damage risks, and is also investigating the possibility of launching a working capital finance guarantee facility to help reduce the cost to exporters of raising funds for exports and imports.