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UK Expands Export Finance in West Africa

By Dipo Olowookere

The United Kingdom has strengthen its presence in the West African to with the announcement of Ghana becoming the first nation in the region to have a representative of the world’s oldest export credit agency, UK Export Finance (UKEF) stationed in-country.

Steve Gray, who will be taking up office at the British High Commission in Accra as the UKEF Country Manager, will work closely with the Department for International Trade team to strengthen trading relations between Ghana and the United Kingdom reaffirming the UK Government’s ambitions for more trade with the Ghanaian market.

Through its local presence in Accra, UKEF is strategically positioned to provide competitive and innovative finance to Ghanaian and West African companies looking to do business with the UK. Further evidence that the British government is committed to growing its trade relationship with its African partners, this appointment follows the recent announcement that the UK government is increasing the export finance cover available to the Ghanaian market from £125 million to £500 million, as well as the decision by the export credit agency to provide loan guarantees in the local currency of Cedi – allowing for the flexibility to “buy British and pay local” and going beyond other countries’ credit agencies’ offerings.

Steve Gray worked in Ghana with a UK construction company from 1996-98, returning in 2011 to spearhead the development of a major private sector-led infrastructure project. He has a wealth of experience and a very extensive record working within the wider African market, in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, South Africa, Zambia and Tanzania.

Commenting on the appointment, UK Trade Director for West Africa, Kate Rudd, said, “The UK has a long and solid business relationship not just with Ghana, but countries across the continent. UKEF’s local presence, as well as the increase in export finance cover, and the decision to provide loan guarantees in local currency demonstrates the importance the UK attaches to the further development of commercial ties between the United Kingdom and West Africa.”

Steve Gray, Country Head for Ghana, said, “British businesses have a wealth of expertise and experience to support important sectors like infrastructure, energy, transport and healthcare in West Africa, while these fast-growing and dynamic markets offer huge opportunities for UK exporters. That is why I am delighted to be joining UK Export Finance and the British High Commission’s trade team in Ghana, to support our two countries’ growing trade relationship.”

Established in 1919, UKEF is the UK Government’s Export Credit Agency, helping buyers around the world trade with UK suppliers by offering attractive financing options. Alongside long repayment terms, UKEF has the ability to support a wide range of financing structures and offers one of the most flexible local content requirements of any credit agency in the world.

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