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Financial services 7 May 2022

Building Africa’s leading trade platform

Technology, presence and global reach define continent’s future trade ecosystem

Delivering on Standard Bank’s ambition to build Africa’s dominant business trade platform is not as unlikely as many may think. As a bank committed to driving Africa’s growth, Standard Bank has for decades steadily expanded its footprint and deepened its reach and capability across 20 African territories. Today, the bank is the largest by assets in Africa. Through Standard Bank’s equity partnership with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the biggest bank in the world, the Group represents a formidable continent-wide banking ecosystem, driving Africa’s growth by linking Africans to each other – and Africa with the world.

Philip Myburgh, Head of Trade and Africa-China at Standard Bank’s Business & Commercial Clients’ (BCC) division, believes recent developments inside and between African countries – and the world – present a powerful argument for the emergence of a dedicated end-to-end trade practice serving the entire African business value chain.


Rapidly growing markets in East and West Africa, expanding inter and intra-regional African trade, recovering global trade driven largely - though not exclusively - by China, the broadly ratified African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and the re-emergence of global growth post-Covid all combine to present Africa’s small, medium, and larger businesses with a trade opportunity set to re-ignite the African growth story.


Local and global supply chain disruption, new and complex business risks, rapidly changing global trade and supply realities all require advanced knowledge delivered locally but leveraged by agile global networks enabled and accessed digitally.

Beyond merely facilitating transactions, taking a more holistic view of trade across 15 of the continent’s most active trade markets presents BCC an opportunity to use its developed local, continental, and global ecosystems to intervene strategically at critical points along Africa’s trade value chain.

Trade corridors

Standard Bank has already built, and is successfully enabling, strategic African trade corridors.

Built in partnership with ICBC, Standard Bank’s Africa-China trade corridor solutions were designed to give practical force to the African growth narrative of the last decade. In addition, the bank’s long-established Europe and United States trade corridor capabilities have deftly equipped Africans to access key developed economies, and the developed West to access Africa for generations.

When the benefits of the AfCFTA gain traction, Standard Bank's established trade ecosystem will equip customers to access and expand Africa's estimated USD 70 billion annual trade opportunity.

A trade platform business

Combining Standard Bank’s full suite of trade support, technology, capital, and insight into a single, well-coordinated ecosystem will build a trade platform business unrivalled in Africa.

These strategic advantages are augmented by a host of well-functioning and expertly targeted trade solutions developed to address customer pain points and sustain the expansion of African trade.

Trade Club and Trade Suite provide customers end-to-end trading, import/export, financing, shipping, customs, and foreign exchange capability.

The Africa-China Import Solution supports the sourcing and importing of quality-controlled and price-compared goods and services from China, including everything from letters of credit to customs, to logistics and payment.

Working with ICBC, Standard Bank negotiated a specialised transport solution with Sino Truck, one of China’s largest heavy vehicle suppliers. By supplying more affordable trucks supported by better payment terms, while also providing financing solutions, Standard Bank helps customers raise the capital and secure the forex to purchase the trucks.

On the export side, Standard Bank takes African nut, wine, seed, chili, edible oil, and other agri-producers to the annual Chinese International Import Expo (CIIE) and bi-annual China Africa Economic Trade Expo (CAETE).

By linking Africans to each other, and Africa to the world, Standard Bank is supporting its customers with the world’s largest and most effective African trade ecosystem.


Philip Myburgh is Head of Trade and Africa-China at Standard Bank’s Business & Commercial Clients’ division