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Afreximbank makes first Caribbean loan disbursement to St. Lucia

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is pleased to announce the successful execution of its first disbursement from its newly-established Caribbean Office in Bridgetown, Barbados. The disbursement, totaling US $6 million, is a Climate-linked Sovereign Term Loan Facility for the government of St. Lucia, specifically for education rehabilitation. This facility is part of Afreximbank’s pilot financing initiative in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) region, following the approval of a $1.5 billion limit for CARICOM member states by the Bank’s Board of Directors. The loan will contribute to the infrastructure rehabilitation of St. Lucia, including the repair of 25 schools that were damaged during tropical storm Bret in June 2023.

During a visit by the Afreximbank delegation, led by Mr. Okechukwu Ihejirika, Acting Chief Operating Officer of the Caribbean Office, Prime Minister Philip J Pierre of St. Lucia expressed his gratitude for the facility, emphasizing its importance in ensuring continued education and capacity building for the country’s youth. The devastating impact of storm Bret has left many schools in hazardous conditions, making it difficult for children to study. As part of the visit, the delegation also toured Bishop Charles Gachet R.C. Primary School, which is one of the schools set to benefit from the disbursed facility.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank, highlighted the significance of this disbursement, emphasizing the Bank’s unwavering commitment to supporting member states during times of crises and ensuring financial stability.

Prof. Oramah emphasized that the establishment of the facility demonstrates our proactive approach in tackling economic difficulties and our dedication to collaborative endeavors in bridging funding gaps, as well as fostering trade and investments between Africa and the Caribbean. We take great pride in playing a crucial role in this accomplishment, which is poised to make a significant contribution to the socio-economic development of St. Lucia.

The economy of St. Lucia, which heavily relies on tourism, has encountered substantial economic challenges as a result of consecutive external shocks, including the COVID-19 pandemic. The subsequent suspension of tourism activities led to a 24 percent decline in real GDP in 2020 and a notable rise in unemployment. Additionally, the conflict in Ukraine has further exacerbated inflationary pressures due to St. Lucia’s dependence on fuel and food imports. Notably, St. Lucia has recently signed and ratified the Afreximbank Partnership Agreement.

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