Dr. Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank, and Hesham Okasha, Chairman of NBE, signed the facility agreement for the Industrialization Support Facility on behalf of their respective institutions during a ceremony held at the offices of NBE in Cairo on 27 April. Dr. Oramah said that the facility would support Egypt’s Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SME) Initiative, which was launched in 2016 to provide five billion Egyptian pounds in loans to medium-sized companies in the industrial and agricultural sectors which constitute the main tradable sectors of the economy.
“With simple strokes of the pen, we will be consummating a deal that, by all measures, will contribute significantly to the Egyptian economy,” said the President in a speech before the signing ceremony. “We will be empowering small and medium-scale enterprises in the industrial and agricultural sectors to realise their business ambitions. As SMEs are major employers of labour in any economy, we expect this facility to boost employment and overall welfare of the Egyptian people.”
Being a hard currency facility, the facility would make it possible for beneficiaries to access essential investment goods from the international market to improve their competitiveness, he said, adding that the granting of the facility demonstrated Afreximbank’s commitment to the Egyptian economy and reflected the confidence of the Egyptian authorities in the Bank as a key financing partner.
He announced that, since inception in 1993, Afreximbank had approved credit facilities totaling $13.8 billion to Egyptian entities, representing 33.7 per cent of the total facilities approved by the Bank. Over the same period, the Bank confirmed and issued guarantees and letters of credit exceeding $2 billion on behalf of Egyptian entities. Afreximbank currently had an outstanding credit portfolio of about $4.2 billion for Egypt, Dr. Oramah added.
Responding, Mr. Okasha said that the facility would have a very significant impact on the Egyptian economy through the boost it would give to the SME sector. NBE had a very long experience in disbursing financing to SMEs and would ensure that the facility was properly utilized, he assured, adding that the bank looked forward to further collaboration with Afreximbank.