The Guarantee Fund for Private Investments in West Africa (GARI Fund) has reviewed its country funding limit for Nigeria from $15million to $20million to accommodate more investments in the country.
Acting Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Nignon Jacques, told the Managing Director, Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), Robert Orya, that the decision to raise the funding limit was part of its policy to boost its strategic focus on growing its interventions in Nigeria.
Mr. Jacques, who was responding to the request by Mr. Orya for a funding facility under the GARI Fund to finance the acquisition of sea-going vessels for the SEALINK Project, said the fund could be adapted to accommodate waivers on transaction-specific basis to raise Nigeria’s transaction portfolio.
As part of its efforts to facilitate the take-off of its flagship initiative, Mr. Orya had visited Benin Republic and Togo to solicit the support of some regional funding agencies and financial organisations.
In Lome, the NEXIM boss presented an overview of the initiative and the rationale behind the intervention of the NEXIM bank, pointing out that the project was in line with its mandate to deepen trade within the West African sub-region as well as boost transportation among member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
He told the West African Development Bank (BOAD) and the ECOWAS bank for Investment and Development (EBID), that the Sealink initiative was the missing ingredient towards achieving the intendment of the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, Goods and Services signed by the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in Lome, Togo since July 5th, 1985.
According to the Director of EBID’s Private Sector Operations, Ousmane Bocoum, who welcomed the initiative, and acknowledged it as being in line with its developmental role, the bank is committed to support any initiative aimed at promoting regional trade.
“The bank would invest in the equity and debt aspects of the initiative when it has reviewed the feasibility study report for a better appreciation of the project,” he said.
Raising concerns about the relationship between the Sealink and ECOMARINE, which was set up to provide similar maritime logistics services, the NEXIM MD had explained that the SEALINK project is strictly private-sector driven by participants drawn from West and Central Africa.
Besides, he said the SEALINK project has adopted the ECOMARINE and ECOBANK Transnational business models, which has resulted in the setting up of a special purpose vehicle to work towards the establishment of the Regional Maritime Shipping Company.
Mr. Orya reiterated the commitment of NEXIM to sustain the good relationship with the Fund and to ensure the prevalence of the favourable policy environment to expand its scope of intervention in Nigeria, giving the assurance that within the next three months NEXIM would forward for consideration some transactions that are in the pipeline that require some financing to take off.