NAGAFF Registrar delivers world class lecture at NUJ workshop on AfCFTA
* Mentions dearth of infrastructure, insecurity as factors militating against Nigeria in AfCFTA
* Nigeria not ready for AfCFTA – Says FWDR Omotosho
The Registrar of NAGAFF Academy, FWDR Francis Idowu Omotosho, has identified insecurity, disunity, dearth of infrastructure (at sea Ports, Airports and Joint border points), trade barriers and lack of a functional rail system, as some of the factors militating against Nigeria in African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
FWDR Omotosho, a reputable scholar and International trade facilitation expert, gave these details while delivering a lecture at the just concluded workshop, organised by Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos chapter, under the leadership of Mr Adeleye Ajayi as Chairman.
FWDR Omotosho, who spoke on the theme : ‘Challenges of African Continental Free Trade Agreement on Nigerian Businesses’, delivered a world class lecture, which erupted the loudest applause from participants at the workshop.
According to him, the current Nigerian market poses greater challenges in ensuring a successful intra-regional trade for businesses in its sphere, adding that until these issues are addressed, Nigeria is not ready for AfCFTA.
Speaking more on the challenges facing Nigeria and Africa as a Continent, he pointed out :
“Other issues in the region include general political instability and crisis across Africa; Nigeria’s unity under threat of collapsing and
lack of commitments to eradicate existing trade barriers among members.
“Others include absence of regional integrated transport System (Rail Transport); inconsistency in trade agreement among member States;
cross-border payment settlements; no freedom of movement of people across the borders; non availability of harmonised clearance process and uniform Customs Platform; lack of round the clock working operations;
lack of attractive external and internal trade tariff, as well as policies.”
Speaking further, Omotosho, who is also a Senior lecturer in NAGAFF Academy informed :
“AfCFTA will be governed by five operational instruments, which include; the Rules of Origin; online negotiating forum; Monitoring and Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers; Digital Payments System and African Trade Observatory techniques.
“The negotiating aspects in AfCFTA for members will cover trade, dispute settlement process, tariffs and intellectual property rights.”
He added :
“Recall that on January 1, 2021, the biggest trade area with a market of 1.2 billion people and a projected
cumulative GDP of US$3.4 trillion since the creation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1995,
after years of ambitious planning commenced with 54 countries, aimed at providing great opportunities to enhance industrialisation in Africa by removing tariffs and other barriers to trade on goods and services, as well as increasing intra-African investments.
“While establishment of AfCFTA is not the utmost goal but rather, a means to an end towards actualising Africa’s Agenda 2063 – The Africa we want aims to create a single and liberalised market for goods and services; contribute to movement of capital and natural persons; promote sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development; expand intra-African trade and enhance competitiveness within the Continent and the global market.”
The Registrar went on : “Now, the question is; how can Nigerian businesses key into the concept of AfCFTA? Another key question that comes to mind is – how can Nigeria resolve its challenges to ensure growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the regional economies of Africa?
“However, for Nigerian Businesses to key into the framework of AfCFTA and benefit equitably, we need the following: hosting space satellite to cover the entire African Continent for the purpose of electronic data interchange for commerce and transport monitoring in Africa, access to Information Communication Technology (ICT) facilities (Direct Internet Connection).
Access to education – (Nigerians need adequate training).
“Access to capital/loan for financial empowerment. Access to multimodal transport system, that is integrated transport system across Africa. Provision of adequate security measures. Integrated single African Customs Platform. One acceptable and single African trade currency. 24 hours operations at land borders, Airports and Seaports in Nigeria.
24 hours bank services and wide connectivity across Africa.
Reduction in all internal taxes, duty and levies”.
On the benefits of AfCFTA, he said :
“The economic benefits of regional trade agreements include; boosting economic growth of member countries, particularly in creating jobs to lower unemployment rates. Market expansion for commercial activities. Since trade agreements usually come with investment guarantees, investors who want to do business in developing countries are protected against political risk.
“The volume of businesses in member countries enjoy greater incentives to trade in new markets, thanks to attractive trading conditions due to the policies included in the agreement. As variety of goods gain access to new markets, the competition becomes more intense.
“The increased competition compels businesses to produce higher quality products. It also leads to more variety for consumers. When there is a wide variety of high-quality
products, businesses can improve customers’ satisfaction.”
Giving the background details of AfCFTA, he informed :
The Federal Executive Council ratified Nigeria’s membership of AfCFTA, on November 11, 2020. That occurred more than a year after Nigeria signed the Agreement in July 2019.
“On December 5, 2020, at Addis Ababa, (ECA) – Nigeria deposited its instrument on ratification of AfCFTA, becoming the 34th member State to formally ratify the treaty.
The deposit came an hour before the opening of a summit of African Heads of States, where they proclaimed the Johannesburg Declaration formally, fixing trade to start onJanuary 1, 2021 as earlier scheduled.”
The NUJ workshop on AfCFTA, which was the best of its kind drew Resource Persons from government, the manufacturing sector, top maritime agencies in Nigeria, the academia and over 200 Journalists in attendance.
Presentations were made by Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Lagos State Government, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), SAHCO, among other reputable organisations.