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Zenith Fintech subsidiary, Zenpay Ltd, partners AfCFTA

Zenpay Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Zenith Bank Plc, has signed an agreement with the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to develop and deploy the SMARTAfCFTA portal to facilitate trade within the African continent.

The agreement signed on Friday, May 3 by Zenpay Limited Chairman Dr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu and the Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, His Excellency Wamkele Mene, at the Zenith Bank Headquarters, Ajose Adeogun Street, Victoria Island, Lagos. 2024 comes as a follow-up to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) previously signed by both parties during the 8th annual edition of Zenith Bank’s International Trade Seminar on Non-Oil Export, held on Wednesday, August 8, 2023.

During the signing of the agreement, Dr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, Chairman of Zenpay Limited, expressed enthusiasm for the partnership with the AfCFTA Secretariat, highlighting its significance given the current understanding of trade flows in Africa. Dr. Onyeagwu noted: “In Africa, intra-African trade constitutes only about 20% of total trade while the rest goes abroad, despite the fact that Africans constitute 18% of the world’s population but contribute less than 5% to the global GDP. By trading within Africa, we anticipate building prosperity across the continent.”

He further stated: “This initiative is not driven by profiteering, but by the need to support the African Continental Free Trade Area. It aims to create a unified African market, strengthen economic integration and standardize customs and practices. As we advance this agenda, we expect to see significant growth and improvement in intra-African trade.”

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Also speaking during the signing of the agreement, His Excellency Wamkele Mene, Secretary General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, shared his delight at working with Zenpay Limited in the development of SMARTAfCFTA. He appreciated Jim Ovia, CFR, Founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, for his commitment to the project. According to him: “Four years ago, we discussed and proposed SMARTAfCFTA as a digital platform to empower SMEs and young entrepreneurs in Africa, facilitate their participation in trade and boost intra-African trade. This platform will serve as a repository for crucial trade data and provide insight into rules of origin and market information, thus playing a crucial role in the implementation of the AfCFTA agreement. Today is proof that the collaboration with our African partners in this case, Zenith bank, shows that their commitment extends beyond their progit margins to their stakeholders, but is motivated by our shared duty to the continent.”

Speaking about the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) alongside the SMARTAfCFTA portal, HE Mene described PAPSS as “Africa’s payment highway.” He clarified that unlike PAPSS, SMARTAfCFTA is not a payment platform itself, but will be interoperable with PAPSS, enabling functionalities that facilitate simple payments. He emphasized that these platforms complement each other; they don’t compete. “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 driving innovation within this framework and ensuring it supports a seamless continental payments system without creating competition between platforms.”

SMARTAfCFTA is a digital platform designed to facilitate international trade by providing necessary information and tools to Africa’s private and public sectors. The portal aims to streamline and unlock vast trade opportunities on the African continent, and has the capacity to provide information such as trade indicators, market trends, customs tariffs, trade agreements, rules of origin, market access requirements of relevant jurisdictions, export opportunities, export diversification indicators and contact details of business partners in target markets and other trade-related information about Africa.

Zenpay Ltd is a private limited company incorporated under the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as a wholly owned subsidiary of Zenith Bank Plc. Company. It is a one-stop revolutionary financial technology company (Fintech) responsible for digital innovation and payments.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is one of the flagship projects of Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want and came into effect on May 30, 2019. It is a trade agreement with high ambitions, which aims to bring together all 55 member states of the African Union. the African Union, covering a market of more than 1.3 billion people, with a comprehensive scope that includes critical areas of the African economy such as digital trade and investment protection. By removing trade barriers in Africa, the aim of the AfCFTA is to significantly boost intra-African trade, especially trade in value-added manufacturing and trade in all service sectors of the African economy, with a potential of 52, 3 percent.