Your favourite bank is back with some exciting news. The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) launched the Africa Trade Gateway (ATG) a couple of days ago. Don’t worry, we’ll get into what ATG is, you’ll understand as you read on.
ATG is a one-stop digital platform with information on rules that apply to thousands of products, customs procedures, market information and trends, and payment transfers
The ATG is a suite of five digital platforms that were designed as a single window. Why? – to support and promote African trade and the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
This ATG will allow businesses to easily and quickly access a range of trade-related services, such as customs clearance, payments, and logistics. The hope is that this will make it easier and cheaper for businesses to trade across borders, which will boost intra-African trade.
This should be great news for Zimbabwean companies stuck in a small landlocked country. Opening the door to increased exports means an addressable market larger than 16 million.
Organisations like ZimTrade exist to boost exports of Zimbabweans companies but ATG, in theory at least, could do more, quicker than they could.
Back to ATG
It is a suite of five digital platforms, as mentioned above. Here are the platforms:
MANSA is a due-diligence platform that helps people find information about African businesses. It has information about various African entities, financial institutions, corporations, and SMEs.
It also has information that is useful to those looking to invest in Africa, stuff like country profiles and traded products and services. Mind you, this can be African or foreign investors.
Now, if Zimbabwean startups don’t make it their priority to list on this platform, then they better not complain that investors don’t look their way.
PAPSS is a payment system that allows businesses to make payments in local currencies across Africa.
It was created to make it easier and cheaper for businesses to trade within Africa, and to help promote financial integration across the continent.
PAPSS was adopted by African Union heads of state in 2019, and it is currently operated out of Cairo.
There cannot be intra-African trade without an efficient payment platform. That said, I think we Zimbabweans have to curb our enthusiasm when it comes to the ‘payment in local currencies’ part.
The ZW$ is not really a currency, is it now? So, just expect to deal in USD.
It is a network for businesses and executives who want to trade and invest in Africa. It provides members with trade intelligence, advisory services, and networking opportunities. This helps members to discover new markets, grow their business, save time, access expert support, and connect with other businesses.
Membership is open to global industry leaders, African and foreign businesses, intergovernmental organizations, policymakers, and others who are “committed to unlocking growth and development in Africa.”
ATEX is an online marketplace for businesses in Africa. They say it is a B2B (business to business) and B2G (business to government) e-commerce platform.
It was launched in May 2022, and it helps small, medium, and large businesses to find new markets, optimize their supply chains, and procure basic commodities in bulk.
It is a platform that connects businesses that need freight and logistics services with freight and logistics providers across Africa. It makes it easy for businesses to get quotes for the pickup and delivery of goods to and from any location in Africa, and it helps businesses to find the best deals.
All the above in one window
Afreximbank says customers can complete all their transactions within one window. You don’t need to hop around the platforms discussed above. You can access them all in one place.
As someone pointed out, it was remiss of us to not mention just how much these services may be out of reach for most small businesses.
You can register as a Contributor, Verifier, Agent, Cooperative or Subscriber on MANSA for example.
If you choose to be a Subscriber, which allows you to view Customer Due Diligence and other information, it will cost this much per annum:
- Basic Plan – $600
- Gold Plan – $2400
- Enterprise Plan – $10,500
If you choose to view just one profile on-demand, without the option to download it, that will cost you $50.
Many small businesses will find it hard to participate. However, one could just make sure their business information is captured by Contributors to the platform. After all, MANSA really is about investors finding businesses to invest in.
TRADAR Club should be inaccessible to many too. However, there is a free plan with limited features. That should help you determine whether it would make sense for you to pony up $1500 per year for a Standard Plan for example.
Some of the other platforms should be more accessible as they are targeted at small businesses.
As you can see, the Basic, Standard and Gold plans are free to use. Of course free gets you limited access.
If you find value, you won’t mind paying $100 for the Platinum plan.
So, go check it out for yourself and see where your small business could find value.