By George Mangula
The Trade Finance Division of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), have teamed up with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) to launch a Joint AfDB-ITFC Trade Finance E-Learning Program for African financial institutions.
The program will provide online post-training to about 500 trade finance staff of 200 local partner banks in more than 35 African countries over a three-year period. Part of the program will be funded by German international cooperation agencies (BMZ/GIZ) under the MFW4A Trade Finance Initiative, which aims to improve the understanding of the trade finance market in Africa, and promote sound financial sector policy, regulatory reforms and joint thematic research.
The initial phase of the program will deliver the Global Trade Certificate (GTC), a nine e-courses curriculum designed to sell, deliver and process global trade finance solutions, including Islamic (Trade) Finance courses. The Global Trade Certificate (GTC) is offered by the ICC Academy, the educational arm of the International Chamber of Commerce.
Proponents say the partnership has two objectives. First, it will help local partner banks to strengthen their trade finance capacity, required to extend superior services to SMEs and local businesses clientele engaged in international trade. Second, it is expected that the partner banks experiment and introduce more sophisticated trade finance products in line with the evolution of the market and the needs of their clients, including in the area of Islamic finance.
The skills acquired will contribute to reduce operational risks inherent in trade finance, to access untapped markets, diversify the product portfolios and improve the perception that global banks have about the capacity of local African banks to manage trade finance transactions. Ultimately, the program will increase the volume of lending and contribute to reduce the trade finance gap, estimated at US$1.5 trillion with almost US$120 billion in Africa.
According to a recent survey conducted by AfDB, one of the major constraints African banks face in growing their trade businesses is inadequate staff capacity in trade finance. “In this context, the beneficiary banks must possess the requisite infrastructure and skills required to absorb further financing, compete globally and capture the diversity and appetite of clientele for various products,” organisers of the programme say.
The training program is being implemented within the context of AfDB’s and ITFC strategic priorities to promote financial inclusion, private sector development and integrated trade solutions. The International Chamber of Commerce via its education arm has a groundbreaking e-learning platform for trade finance practitioners. It delivers online certification and professional development services to meet the educational needs of banks, corporates, and other organizations at the forefront of international trade.