“We are particularly excited about our partnership with the National Inland Waterways Authority in Nigeria (NIWA) to promote inland waterway operations on the lower River Niger and River Benue”

Abubakar A. Bello, MD, NEXIM Bank

Exclusive interview with Abubakar A. Bello, Managing Director of the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), bronze sponsors at Nigeria Mining Week in Abuja this week.

Let’s start with some background on NEXIM and your current business interests in Africa, and in Nigeria in particular. There is a proud history there. 

As you may be aware, the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) was established in 1991 by an Act as Nigeria’s Export Credit Agency with a mandate to promote and support the non-oil export sector through the provision of export credits and risk bearing facilities to exporters.

The current business interest of the Bank in Africa is the promotion and facilitation of regional trade connectivity and the enhancement of Nigeria’s current low annual level of Intra-Africa trade of about 15%.

These twin objectives informed the Bank’s strategy of promoting the Regional Sealink project in partnership with some key stakeholders like Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce & Industry and Transimex S. A. Cameroun. 

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The Sealink is intended to bridge regional maritime logistics infrastructure gap and to also drastically moderate transport logistics in intra-African trade.

NEXIM has over the years played key roles through its funding interventions and the provision of risk bearing facilities to support Nigeria’s non-oil export capacity as well as in facilitating the diversification of the Nigerian economy. 

In this regard, NEXIM’s footprints can be seen in four key sectors of the economy, notably Manufacturing, Agro-processing, Solid Minerals and Services, where some of the Bank’s beneficiary start-up projects have grown to be ranked among the top CBN 100 exporters.  

Is NEXIM involved in any specific mining projects in Nigeria and the region that you are particularly excited about at the moment?

In line with the Bank’s strategic focus to intervene in the solid minerals sector, NEXIM has provided funding support to quite a number of mining projects, especially in the metallic ores –lead / Zinc, Industrial minerals and dimension stones sub-sectors, among others. 

On the regional aspect of our funding interventions in Nigeria, the Bank is open to supporting projects all over the country in line with its objectives of promoting regional industrialisation and exports.

On a specific note and in relation to promoting solid minerals sector development, we are particularly excited that our partnership with the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) to promote inland waterway operations on the lower River Niger and River Benue, which will de-risk logistics for bulk commodities production will attract additional investments and funding to mining assets that are near the river channels. 

On the inland waterways operations, NEXIM would soon be collaborating with NIWA and the Navy Hydrographers on the survey of the rivers to facilitate the publishing of a navigation chart to aid safety and logistics efficiency.

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With the survey, charting and proper channel management, the Sealink Consortium partners would be able to deploy various barges for bulk movement of solid minerals, thereby enhancing export revenue of over US$ 1 billion annually.

How excited are you about the opportunities in Nigeria’s mining sector?

Given the untapped opportunities in the sector, it is quite exciting for us because the Bank has lately received enquiries on investments and transactional partnership, especially against the current plans to de-risk logistics infrastructure gap. 

It is based on the foregoing that the Bank is concluding arrangements to introduce additional funded and non-funded instruments and diversifying modes of funding to support production and value-added processing / beneficiation.

Why did you decide to partner with Nigeria Mining Week?

Our partnership support is to lend support to Government’s current policy framework towards the successful implementation of the mining roadmap, which is designed to promote economic diversification and value added production.

Also, the new Honourable Minister’s determination to move the sector to the next level informed the need for collaborative support. Most importantly, our partnership will no doubt afford us the opportunity to engage with miners and other key stakeholders to share with them and the general public the Bank’s proposed interventions to the mining sector, while also assuring all stakeholders that the inland waterways operation of the Sealink is coming soon. 

What will be NEXIM’s message at Nigeria Mining Week in October?

With an expectation for an outcome that will foster a viable, strong and globally competitive mining sector that would attract investments, create jobs and foster shared prosperity, NEXIM’s message will be it is time to scale-up production and investments in the sector to facilitate economic diversification and rebuild market confidence. 

What are you most looking forward to in Abuja next week?

Announcement of major partnership deals and investments commitments. 

Anything you would like to add?

We wish all delegates and participants successful deliberations and eventful participation.