The African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) has announced Côte d’Ivoire has joined a growing list of African countries who are members of the institution.
ATI is a multilateral investment insurer whose specialised investment and commercial risk insurance products are expected to help attract up to USD2 billion worth of inward investments and trade into the country, and to potentially help lower its sovereign borrowing costs by up to 1% annually.
The pan-African institution now insures investments equal to approximately 0.6 to 1.4 percent of GDP annually in a majority of its member states and includes support of strategic deals such as cover on African Development Bank’s USD159 million loan to fund Ethiopian Airline’s fleet expansion. Côte d’Ivoire’s membership in ATI is seen as an integral part of the government’s strategy to attract more investments and to diversify the economy through increased trade and investment opportunities.
“Our country membership in ATI will contribute to creating the economic conditions that will enable us to reach emerging country status by 2020,” commented Adama Kone, Minister of Economic and Finance of Côte d’Ivoire.
Côte d’Ivoire becomes the third country to join ATI in the last six months following Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, which became members in late 2016. Rapid membership growth, particularly in significant African economies, is core to ATI’s medium-term plan to broaden its reach and impact and to better distribute risk across more countries in Africa.
ATI’s membership push is supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB), which to date has provided a combined USD30 million in soft loans for the membership subscription of Ethiopia, Côte d’Ivoire and Zimbabwe as well as an increase in the capital subscription of Benin. Reflecting its catalytic role in African economies, ATI expects to leverage Côte d’Ivoire’s initial share capital investment by up to 60 times in terms of supported investments into the country on an annual basis, as ATI does in other member states.
In the next two years, ATI will continue to target other ECOWAS and large African economies for membership. Increased membership by these countries elevates ATI’s impact in Africa’s economic development, where the company increasingly participates in priority projects targeting sectors such as energy, water, road and rail construction and rehabilitation, building construction, agriculture and telecommunications.
ATI provides medium to long term credit risk mitigation products to support investors, banks, businesses, governments and government agencies in Africa. For banks for instance, ATI offers protection against non-payment risks that allow lenders to expand their loan portfolios. For governments, ATI’s products can be used as a substitute for guarantees, which helps sovereigns to lower their debt ceiling.
“ATI’s entry into the Ivorian market is a real leverage for us to attract more foreign investments and to boost trade both regionally and internationally,” notes Guy M’Bengue, CEO of Côte d’Ivoire’s Export Promotion Agency (APEX-CI) and a Board member of the Private Sector Employer’s Association (CGECI).
“Our focus this year and beyond continues to be membership growth, particularly in West Africa. We see this region as an important part of our pan African mandate and Côte d’Ivoire is poised to be an important West African market for ATI’s products. In partnership with other international players, ATI is now in a position to support strategic projects in West African member states in order to benefit the region,” notes George Otieno, ATI’s Chief Executive Officer.