The African Export Import (AFREXIM) Bank has signed  a loan agreements  worth N396 billion ($1.1 billion ) with Dangote Group of Companies and Tony Elumelu’s Heirs  Holding Foundation.

The agreements, were sealed at the on going 24th Annual  General Meeting of the bank holding in Kigali, Rwanda.

By the agreement, Dangote group, will take N360 billion($1billion) while Heirs Holding Foundation ,will take N36 billion ($100million).

At the signing ceremony, AFREXIM Bank’s  president, Dr Benedict  Oramah, said the deed was part of the bank’s  bid to expand businesses in Africa through disbursement of N9 trillion ($25 billion) in the next five years.

He said the bank, has set for itself target of strengthening businesses in various sectors of the economy within the region  to bring a major change in the prevailing  situation whereby once there is crash in commodity prices, it will send economy of most countries into recession.

He said the regional bank, which is currently focusing its core strategy on promoting intra-African trade, promoting industrialisation and export of manufactured goods as well as maintaining trade financing leadership in Africa, is already making its business supportive and promotion impact in many countries within the continent.

The AFREXIM Bank boss, commended the President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote for his business efforts, describing him as pride of Africa. 

Listing Dangote group among the African business Champions the continent could boast of, Oromah stated, “a number of African champions have emerged creating manufacturing capacities and fostering the emergence of regional and continental supply chains.

“The Dangote Group has cement plants in about 14 African countries and is now the largest supplier of cement in Africa. The Group will by 2018 open one of the largest refineries in the world. The refinery, with capacity of about 650,000 bpd, can supply the total refining requirements of West Africa”,.

Speaking, President Dangote group, Aliko Dangote, thanked the bank for the loan,  promising taht it would be judiciously utilised in expansion of the group’s investment.

He said the group has investments  in 14 African countries, adding that  its main business in those countries is cement business.

He said in its effort to expand its business frontiers, the group has to contend with competition, some of which comes from top government officials of the host countries.

He said the group, had relied on legal appeals to surmount such problem.

The group, according to him, surmounts problem of high production cost in most of the African countries by generating its own power directly from the national grid.

He said even in the midst of the resistance, the group pays  its taxes to these countries and creates employment for their citizens.

He regretted the existing border  challenges  in the region, adding that 30 percent of business cost is from border challenges.

He called for  ease in intra-African businesses as is the case in Asia and Europe.

He encouraged young investors in the country to believe in their abilities, adding that this is the beginning of their success.

Speaking, the founder of Heirs Holding Foundation, Tony Elumelu,  expressed delight in the bank’s effort  to strengthen businesses in the region.

He said the foundation will utilise the loan to advance its vision of growing and empowering young entrepreneurs. 

He advised political and economy leaders in the region to make their economic environment more predictable.

Elumelu, who gave the advice while sharing his business experience at one of the sessions at the meeting also challenged private sector business operators to transform African countries into investment destination by encouraging young school leavers who have penchant for entrepreneurship to set up their own businesses.  

He observed that 99 percent of young Africans who have flair for entrepreneurship are out of job due to lack of support.

He said his business experiences, point to the fact that Africans can expand on their existing level of investment by creating right environment, learning  to save and invest in the continent, save and allow their money work in the continent instead of taking them abroad, invest for immediate profit and save for the future as well as invest in the youths who are the future leaders by empowering them financially and otherwise. 

He cited example with his experience in the Heirs Holding Foundation, saying just last year about 90,000 would be young entrepreneurs, submitted applications for aid from the foundation but only 1000 were taken while the  rest were thrown out. 

He challenged  private sector  investors to pick some out of these and empower and develop them for establishment.