Canada’s official trade finance agency, Export Development Canada (EDC), has formally established permanent offices in Johannesburg, from where it aims to facilitate $10-billion-worth of business between sub-Saharan African and Canadian companies over the coming five years.
The export credit agency has already provided $7.4-billion in financial support to African firms purchasing goods and services from Canadian companies, including participation in a R6.99-billion rand-denominated loan facility for Bombardier Transportation, which has been awarded a contract to supply 240 electric locomotives to Transnet Freight Rail.
Jean-Bernard Ruggieri, who was born in Tunisia and who had a 15-year career in private banking in France and in Canada before joining EDC in 2013, has been appointed the agency’s first chief representative for sub-Saharan Africa.
Ruggieri tells Engineering News Online that the EDC will use Johannesburg as a hub for its regional activities, noting that Canadian firms are increasingly interested in pursuing opportunities in the infrastructure, renewable energy, mining and oil and gas sectors. Light manufacturing and healthcare or life sciences are viewed as emerging sectors for EDC in the medium term.
“EDC sees three key drivers as we look to grow our total business in the market to $10-billion in the next five years,” said Ruggieri. “A prospect list of 60 to 80 companies already well-suited to EDC’s approach, massive infrastructure demands and a growing loan market.”
The self-financing agency’s mandate is to provide risk mitigation and financing solutions that can be used for capital expenditure, as well as project finance requirements, either through bilateral or syndicated corporate facilities.
The Johannesburg office, which will initially have two permanent employees, with support from staff in Ottawa, Canada, will also actively pursue partnerships with South African and European banks within their syndicated financing facilities for select African corporates that have, or are open to, Canadian interests.
“EDC is investing in sub-Saharan Africa for the long term, where we intend to become growth partners for the banks and companies with whom we develop relationships,” Ruggieri outlines, highlighting that EDC has yearly business volumes nearing $100-billion and the capital and experience to undertake transactions of any size for sub-Saharan African companies.