The Executive Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir El-Rufai said if the Federal Government provides the necessary incentives and environment to the private sector to compete in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement, Nigerians’ entrepreneurial spirit will conquer the continent.
He said Nigeria is a huge market that requires a lot of incentives and encouragement for the local companies to explore the AfCFTA.
Speaking on Wednesday at the official flag – off of the Nationwide sensitisation tour by the National Action Committee on the AfCFTA (NAC-AfCFTA) in Kaduna, Malam El-Rufai said States and Federal governments need to work together to engage private sector players, otherwise Nigeria will be a market for other countries instead of taking advantage of the AfCFTA.
According to the Governor: “Nigerian industries are disadvantaged because of infrastructure deficit particularly in electricity and high interest rate for lending which is a major problem that would affect competitiveness of local companies that would participate in the AfCfTA.”
Painting picture of the need to protect the local market against perceived manipulations under the AfCFTA, El-Rufai said: “In a situation where export restrictions are reduced or eliminated at the continental level, countries that do not have export orientation will suffer because they will become dumping grounds for manufacturing goods by smaller countries that will have to export in order to survive.”
He added that the Federal Government needed to revive the manufacturing sector by ensuring that lending interest rates are deliberately reduced, adding that lending rates are a political not economic decision.
“You have to look at your circumstances and have a monetary policy that would meet your national aspirations”, El-Rufai said.
In his remarks, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Richard Adeniyi Adebayo, said the nationwide sensitisation tour was aimed at engaging and informing the private sector players especially grassroot MSMEs about the AfCFTA and opportunities inherent it while seeking collaboration with the state governments.
The Minister, who was represented by the Ministry’s Director of Trade, Aliyu Abubakar, said the choice of Kaduna as the state to kick-start the nationwide sensitisation tour was informed by her track record of ease of doing business, ranking the first in Nigeria.
Speaking on the Nigeria’s readiness for the AfCFTA,the Secretary of the National Action Committee, Francis Anatogu said: “The National Action Committee on the AfCFTA is Working with relevant agencies to establish structures and processes to implement the rules of origin and other arrangements to enable businesses to commence trading under AFCFTA terms”.
Anatogu, who doubles as the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Matters, told his host in Kaduna that: “Our strategy is to work with the states based on their areas of comparative advantages and priorities as a way of building up our national export trade and creating jobs at grassroot level”.
He said the core objective of the AfCFTA is to create a single market for goods, services, and free movement of persons in order to deepen the economic integration of the African continent.
“The AfCFTA is expected to deliver an integrated continental market of 1.27 billion consumers with an aggregate GDP of USD3.4 trillion. Nigeria constitutes a significant portion of these figures largely spread across our states,” he said.
Nigeria signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement in Niamey, Niger on 7 July 2019 to promote intra-African trade with other African countries. On November 11, 2020, the Federal Executive Council approved the ratification of the agreement demonstrating Nigeria is on course to participate in trading under the AfCFTA. Trading under the AfCFTA commenced on January 1st 2021.