Afreximbank’s Abidjan office, which serves Francophone West Africa, has been ratified by Côte d’Ivoire.

The ratification gives full legal effect to the branch office agreement, though the office itself was set up in May 2015 to handle the bank’s marketing, business development, relationship management, loan structuring and monitoring and agency functions in Francophone West Africa.

The branch is also helping to manage the increase in the bank’s activities in the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), which stand at at US$1.8bn, or 52% of its annual business.

Afreximbank president Benedict Oramah says the Abidjan office is a very important instrument to help the bank promote intra-African trade and support the development of value-added exports from Africa.

He adds that Abidjan was a natural choice because of the significant contribution made by Côte d’Ivoire toward the establishment of the bank, and the country’s role as a major hub for regional and intra-African trade in the Francophone region.

Côte d’Ivoire is the world’s largest producer of cocoa and has recently taken over as the world’s largest exporter of cashew nuts.

Afreximbank is also opening an East Africa office in Nairobi, which should become operational “shortly”. The bank also has two other offices in Abuja and Harare.