The Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) is one of the most ambitious and far-reaching projects in today’s world. It brings unique opportunities for the exponential growth of trade and investment between China and Africa.

In Africa, Belt & Road (B&R) transactions are related to major projects in the power and infrastructure sector and related financing.

According to statistics from the Chinese General Administration of Customs, China’s total import and export volume with Africa was US$134.15 billion (January to August 2018), representing a year-on-year increase of 20.4 percent.

Over the same period, the growth rate of China’s foreign trade with Africa was the highest in the world.

The BRI is at the core of Standard Chartered Bank’s operations. In 2017, we committed additional financing for B&R projects of at least US$20 billion by 2020; and we have been involved in more B&R deals worth more than US$10 billion across a range of products and services.

As one of few global banks that can facilitate trade, capital and investment flow across B&R markets, our strength in connecting African companies to the Renminbi and its growth belt for even greater trade opportunities is unrivalled.

This is because Standard Chartered has been connecting Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe for over 150 years. Our footprint covers two-thirds of Belt and Road markets.

With our rich heritage and deep local knowledge of these markets, we are ideally placed to help our partners, clients, and local communities to make the most of the initiative.

Given the scale and complexity of the B&R Initiative, collaboration and partnerships with regulators, financial institutions and development banks are critical in ensuring that everyone can benefit.

In 2018, Standard Chartered Bank was involved in nearly 100 B&R projects and has facilitated the financing for these programmes with total project size exceeding US$20 billion.

In Zambia, Standard Chartered Bank has 112 years’ experience, and over 150 years in China.

This long history of operating in both markets means we have deep-rooted knowledge and experience in these important markets, giving the bank a competitive edge in facilitating business in the Zambia-China trade corridor, and indeed across the entire B&R trade network.

Furthermore, Standard Chartered supports over US$1bn worth of trade between Zambia and China; and supports over 150 Chinese companies in the country.

We also have dedicated Relationship Managers to assist our Chinese clients across a wide range of financial needs.

Leveraging our unique position, we recently launched the Standard Chartered B&R Relay – the first-ever global running event spanning the BRI. The Relay is highlighting the bank’s continued commitment to B&R, and the positive impact of the initiative to communities and businesses globally.

Led by eight bank employees from across our diverse footprint (Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas), these athletes are participating in running events across 44 B&R markets within a 90-day period.

The Zambia leg of the relay took place in the first week of April as a very dedicated runner myself, I was exceptionally proud to join the athletes on their 10km run!

With our rich history and experience, and our competitive advantage in markets along the Belt and Road trade route, Standard Chartered is firmly committed to being the One Bank for the Belt and Road Initiative.

We must all be proud to live in an era when one of the greatest, historic economic opportunities presents itself.

Author: Herman Kasekende is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Standard Chartered Bank in Zambia.