Nigeria Will Take Full Advantage of the AfCFTA, Says Awolowo

Chief Executive /Executive Director, Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Segun Awolowo has said with a market of 1.2 billion people and combined GDP of $3 trillion, there is huge potential for Nigeria to increase its export to Africa.

Most of the exports, he noted, had been informal, but with platforms like Ecobank, it will become formal, adding real value to the economy, recalling that in 2018 the export value of Nigeria to Africa totaled around $6.99bn, while that to the rest of the world totaled $45.92bn.

Nigeria’s export remains majorly crude oil and natural gas which constitute 91%.

Speaking at the Ecobank Digital Series virtual Africa Trade Conference 2020, Awolowo said using the international trade centre export’s tool, NEPC has identified areas of untapped potential for Nigeria in Africa such as fertilizer, ginger, and sesame.

These, he continued, are what other African countries are buying, stressing that “Nigeria must, and can, live in a world where it no longer sells oil.

“Nigeria is working on key game changers in infrastructure, in order to achieve this, especially in the area of ease of transportation and also in the area of incentives, export expansion grant like pre-shipment incentives and export development fund, which serve to prepare, facilitate and support exporters to the global market,” he stressed.

Speaking on “International trade, the pan African perspective”, Tei Konzi, Commissioner, Trade, Customs, and Free Movement, ECOWAS, who was represented by Kolawole Sofola, Acting Director, Trade, at ECOWAS, said 85% of Nigeria’s products go outside the continent, a situation, he says must change.

“We can bring these trade back to Africa and increase activity in the continent in agriculture, mining amongst others.  We are yet to conclude our tariffs, but at the moment, ECOWAS trade more with outside countries than it does with African countries and this is why we are bent on making sure the AfCFTA succeeds”.

He explained that the AfCFTA is a comprehensive trade agreement that seek to create a single market for goods and services and free movement of persons through the progressive liberation of the market for goods and services and also contribute to the movement of capital to facilitate investment. He said it is meant to be the foundation of continental customs union at a later stage.

In his presentation, Chief Executive of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), Ade Ayeyemi reiterated the need for African countries to adopt a continent-wide approach to business, while also and focusing on wealth creation, to be relevant in the global value chain.

According to Ayeyemi, for the AfCFTA to become a reality, there must be the commitment and readiness to trade facilitation by the individual nations, noting that African governments must unequivocal commit to the agreement.

They must also be prepared as individual nations with their implementation strategies, commitment to free movement-signing and ratification of protocol on free movement of people and country’s Visa openness, readiness for trade facilitation – quality of trade infrastructure and efficiency of ports/Customs, which is still work in progress in nearly all countries.

Ayeyemi assured that Ecobank is fully committed to Africa, as the foremost Pan-African bank, to unequivocally support the implementation of AfCFTA, just as it is ready to deploy its unique pan-African platform to facilitate trade, payment and business and deployment of its strong Africa knowledge to support governments and businesses.

The Ecobank Group CEO emphasized that “no country is so poor that it has nothing to give and no country is so rich that it has nothing to receive. All of us must come together to become better.”

The Ecobank virtual Nigeria ‘Africa Trade Conference 2020’ was part of the Ecobank Digital Series is to showcase Ecobank’s unique intra-Africa trade solutions that enable settlements of international transactions and mitigation of payment risk while providing regional solutions to exporters.