Trade Catalyst Africa (TCA), a wholly owned commercial subsidiary of African aid-for-trade organisation, TradeMark Africa (TMA), has appointed Mr. Duncan Onyango as its inaugural Chief Executive Officer. Duncan, an Oxford-educated investment executive with over two decades of management experience, assumed his new role on 3 July 2023.
He joins TCA from Pharo Ventures East Africa, a for-profit arm of The Pharo Foundation focused on investing in commercially viable and environmentally sustainable enterprises in Eastern Africa. Duncan brings an abundance of skills to his new role from his vast experience gained from working in the donor, development finance, private and public sector environments, having equally served on the boards of diverse organisations globally.
TCA is an investment vehicle that seeks to implement innovative financing structures for the development of trade infrastructure and enhancing access to trade finance for SMEs. USAID provided the initial capital of $25 million for TCA’s operationalisation.
TCA will raise additional resources from development finance institutions (DFIs), commercial banks, private equity funds and other financial institutions. TCA will build on TMA’s in-depth experience in project design, implementation, and stakeholder engagements.
Commenting on the appointment, TCA Board Chair, Patrick Obath said: “We are pleased to welcome Duncan to TCA. He brings to this role a wealth of experience in infrastructure finance, impact investing, trade facilitation as well as corporate and development finance. Coupled with his strategic foresight, he will be instrumental in exploiting the immense opportunities available in the trade finance industry.”
TMA Chief Executive Officer, David Beer, remarked: “TradeMark Africa has delivered significant impact over more than a decade in reducing the cost and time of doing business across borders and along major trade corridors in Africa. We are now looking at how to scale up these investments, leveraging high quality patient capital and more commercial approaches to deliver another scale of results. It is for this reason that we established Trade Catalyst Africa. We are therefore very glad to welcome Duncan on board. He will not only drive the strategic direction and governance of TCA, but also play a vital role in spearheading the mobilisation of private finance to meet the demand for trade facilitation infrastructure in Africa.”
Many of the early wins in TMA’s trade facilitation work arose from significant investments in physical infrastructure spanning areas such as ports and one stop border posts (OSBPs).
This has contributed for example to a drop in dwell times at Mombasa port to four and a half days in 2021 from over seven days in 2012, while border crossing times at select OSBPs supported by TMA fell by an average of 70%. Trade facilitation infrastructure investments remain important catalysts for improving the operating environment through time and cost reductions along trade routes and across borders.
Remarking on his new role, Duncan said: “I am delighted to join Trade Catalyst Africa and by extension, TradeMark Africa, an organisation whose trade facilitation mission has always been close to my heart. This is a pivotal moment for intra-Africa trade as we seek to position Trade Catalyst Africa as a key mobiliser of commercial funding to roll-out investments in trade infrastructure projects as well as financing for micro, small and medium enterprises in Africa. The task ahead is both exciting and monumental.”