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Game Changer for African Trade: Zenith Bank and AfCFTA Launch SMARTAfCFTA Portal

Game Changer for African Trade: Zenith Bank and AfCFTA Launch SMARTAfCFTA Portal

Zenith Bank’s fintech subsidiary, Zenpay, has joined forces with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to develop a new trade portal called SMARTAfCFTA. This platform aims to boost trade across Africa by offering valuable resources and tools to businesses.

The agreement signing ceremony took place on May 3rd, 2024, following a previous Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in August 2023.

Why is this important?

Currently, most African trade happens with countries outside the continent. This new platform aims to change that by making it easier for African businesses to trade with each other.

Dr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, Chairman of Zenpay, highlighted that intra-African trade is low, at only 20% of total trade. He believes that SMARTAfCFTA can help to increase this percentage significantly.

Onyeagwu noted that the initiative aims to create a unified African market, enhancing economic integration and standardising customs and practices. As we advance this agenda, we expect tosee significant growth and improvement in intra-Africa trade.”

What will the platform do?

SMARTAfCFTA will be a one-stop shop for trade information. Businesses will be able to find:

  • Trade data
  • Rules of origin for goods
  • Market intelligence
  • Information on export potential
  • Contact details of potential business partners

The AfCFTA Secretary-General, Wamkele Mene, emphasized that this project is about more than just profit. He sees it as a way to empower African businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and young entrepreneurs.

Mene also praised Zenith Bank for its commitment to the project. He said that this partnership shows a dedication to helping the African continent succeed.

Speaking further,  he clarified that, unlike PAPSS, SMARTAfCFTA is not a payment platform itself but will be interoperable with PAPSS, allowing functionalities that facilitate easy payments.

He emphasised that these platforms complement each other; they are not in competition. “We promote and encourage only one payment platform—PAPSS. Our goal is to integrate the digital ecosystem we are developing into PAPSS. We are committed to fostering innovation within this framework, ensuring it supports a seamless continental payment system without creating competition among platforms.”

While SMARTAfCFTA won’t handle payments itself, it will be compatible with the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS). This will allow for easier and faster payments between businesses.

The launch of SMARTAfCFTA is a big step towards a more integrated African market. By providing the resources and tools businesses need, this platform has the potential to unlock vast opportunities for trade across the continent.

About Bukola Olanrewaju

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