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Nabil Frik discusses Francophone Africa at leading industry conference

Posted on 16/11/2023

Trade Finance

BACB’s Head of Financial Institutions, Nabil Frik, took the stage at the GTR Africa London conference last week to discuss current trends in Francophone African trade.

As part of a fireside chat with consultant and African trade expert Tedd George, Nabil shared his perspective on what has been a volatile period, economically and politically speaking, for many Francophone markets in Western and Central Africa.

Some of the key takeaways from the discussion:

  • Risk is the absence of information. In specialist markets, correct and up-to-date information can only be obtained from local presence. Strong local relationships, developed over time, give banks like BACB real insight into the situation on the ground. It is only through this information that the risks associated with specialist markets can be mitigated for international traders and investors.
  • The market for trade finance in Francophone Africa is seeing growing interest from new players. As some large international banks cut back as part of ‘de-risking’ efforts, we are seeing increased involvement from North African banks – particularly those from Morocco. Islamic Finance, especially from multilateral development banks, is also a growing factor in financing trade in the region.
  • Cultural differences between Francophone and Anglophone African markets have real economic impacts. Trade flows between the two zones remain relatively low, despite geographical proximity and the mutually beneficial opportunities that exist. As intra-African trade accelerates in the wake of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, these opportunities will only increase.
  • Amid ongoing volatility in Francophone Africa, it is trade in strategic goods that will be particularly resilient. Political disruption in Western Africa, when added to the ongoing turbulence from the war in Ukraine, adds to the complex risk environment in the region. In this context, though, it is expected that trade flows of essential and strategic goods – such as food and fuel – will on the whole be relatively undisrupted. It is this sort of trade that, aside from contributing to the social stability for the markets concerned, should continue to provide the foundation for sustainable economic growth in Francophone Africa.

Furthermore, we would like to thank GTR for hosting such an informative event, and greatly look forward to attending next year!

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