Perils and promise of funding trade and infrastructure in Africa

Poor infrastructure and a lack of finance are harming trade in Africa, says Standard Bank South Africa CE Lungisa Fuzile.

Picture: Primedia

Africa does not trade with itself much yet.

Inadequate infrastructure – particularly in the energy sector – and the lack of trade finance remain huge impediments.

“Trade finance is an opportunity for businesses such as ours,” Standard Bank South Africa CE Lungisa Fuzile told Eyewitness News at the 2019 World Economic Forum in Cape Town.

“Standard Bank is crystal clear about the financing of infrastructure, especially in the energy space.”

The bank recently became a huge financier of gas and related projects in Mozambique, a country on the verge of becoming a major energy producer.

Fuzile praised the African Continental Free Trade Agreement as “a major step in the right direction”.

“But it’s just the first step,” said Fuzile. “There’s a lot more that has to happen to actualise free trade.”

Each country must systematically remove barriers to free trade, said Fuzile.

There is overwhelming proof that free trade leads to better outcomes for economies. Trade is always good. It’s always beneficial. But it must be fair.

Standard Bank South Africa CE Lungisa Fuzile

Fuzile is excited about the opportunities that digitisation is bringing to Africa.

However, he said, to capitalise on the opportunities of digitisation, countries on the continent must fix their education systems.

“Digitisation is not the future. It is here, now!”

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Listen to the full conversation between EWN's WEF correspondent Arabile Gumede and Standard Bank South Africa CE Lungisa Fuzile.