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AAM 2024 iWN
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By Kenton X. Chance

NASSAU, Bahamas (CMC) – The 31-year-old Africa Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) Wednesday opened its annual meetings here for the first time in the Caribbean, with Governor of the Central Bank of The Bahamas, John Rolle noting the opportunities for Africa and the Caribbean.

“This gathering represents a great opportunity to leverage the shared history, identities and cultures of African Caribbean nations and to forge stronger trade and investment bonds,” Rolle said as he discussed “Economic Transformation for Global Africa in a Polycrisis World”.

The three-day 31st Afreximbank Annual Meeting (AAM2024) is taking place here alongside the Third AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF2024) through Friday, with both events being fully integrated this year.

Speaking ahead of Thursday’s formal opening ceremony, Rolle said the meetings also present an opportunity to strategise and coordinate a united voice for expressively addressing climate change and accessing resources to fund adaptation.

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“The agenda for the next three days is packed with opportunities to learn, share and network,” he said of the meetings that are being held under the theme “Owning Our Destiny: Economic Prosperity on the Platform of Global Africa”.

Rolle referred to an article co-authored by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva, in which she said that in the past three decades, the forces of trade and integration have contributed to a tripling in the size of the global economy and lifted approximately 1.3 billion people out of extreme poverty.

“However, that same article cautions that the poly-crisis environment in which we’re in is undermining progress, threatening fragmentation and reversal of these gains are some of these gains,” Rolle noted.

“Again, forums such as these annual meetings that encourage innovations and progressive approaches to trade and integration are therefore critical,” Rolle said, adding that the Caribbean has taken note of Afreximbank’s innovative Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS).

John Rolle
Governor of the Central Bank of The Bahamas, John Rolle.

He said that with the support of Afreximbank, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) central banks are exploring how to replicate this on a pan-Caribbean level.

“A successful project in the Caribbean could keep us on pace to deliver on targets that are already being set for an international payment system that even at the retail level, is more integrated, faster, and significantly cheaper for the average consumer.

“If we perfect to multilateral cross border payments, and settlements arrangement, it would also help us to conserve on the use of precious international reserves, especially if we expand intra-regional trade,” the Central Bank Governor said.

Rolle said the Caribbean continues to record healthy economic growth, noting that the IMF in its April 2024 World Economic Outlook said that regional economies grew by 8.3 per cent last year.

“Although this was a slowing from the 14 per cent expansion achieved in 2022, it was still a growth path consistent with the unwinding of momentum which completed our recoveries from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
He described the recovery as “impressive” even if the meteoric gains in Guyana from the discovery of its oil reserves is discounted, adding “and now growth is trending downwards approaching its long-run potential for most of our countries.

“Haiti, which is still torn by conflict, is a stark exception that underscores both a regional resolve and an international push to achieve more lasting peace, stability and prosperity in that country,” Rolle said.

A new government was installed in Port-au-Prince on Tuesday as Haiti continues to grapple with the humanitarian and political crisis following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July 2021.

Rolle said that while positive, the average regional growth outlook in the Caribbean still faces significant downside risk given sustained geopolitical tensions and higher interest rates that central banks have imposed to curb inflation.

“Such developments have tempered global growth projections and given the increased debt taken on during the pandemic, they further limit the capacities of Caribbean governments to finance the investments needed to bolster resilience and strengthen longer-term growth,” he said.

“Nevertheless, the Afreximbank outreach underscores a potential to increase trade and integration with the African continent and help bolster growth potential,” the Bahamas Central Bank Governor said.

The Afreximbank annual meetings are pitched as a uniquely multi-faceted event that cuts across the private/public sector with unmissable conferencing, deal-making, lobbying, entertainment and more. This year it forms Global Africa’s Greatest Gathering.

The ACTIF2024 explores the platform of Global Africa — to navigate new vistas for the Caribbean through African and global investments from across the diaspora; with more than 25 deals expected to be signed and new commercial and developmental initiatives to be announced.

Afreximbank’s  Senior Executive Vice President, Denys Denya, said that despite the abolition of the transatlantic trade in the 1800s, global Africa remains a periphery player in the world economic and financial spheres.

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