The Bankers Association for Finance and Trade (Baft) has launched a regional Africa council, bringing together senior banking leaders from institutions across the continent to provide guidance for the association’s members locally.

The council will look to address common challenges faced by banks in Africa, including capital treatment for trade finance, transition from Libor, payments innovation and de-risking in correspondent banking.

It will be led by co-chairs Ihunanya Onuoha, group head of corporate operations at Access Bank, and Kevin Holmes, Standard Bank’s head of trade product management.

Based in Nigeria, Onuoha has more than 25 years of experience in domestic and international banking operations and trade finance.

Meanwhile Holmes, who is based in South Africa, has worked with Baft for several months to establish initial plans for the council.

As African economies start the process of economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, Holmes is optimistic that through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and with guidance from Baft’s Africa council, the region will emerge strongly.

The AfCFTA aims to bring together 54 countries, boosting intra-African trade by eliminating import duties and stimulating economic growth through enhanced infrastructure and increased investment.

Baft has regional councils in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa and North America to support the transaction banking community to best leverage the association to address issues locally.